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Council OKs berm removal, considers property purchases

July 6, 2011
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer ( , The Journal

NEW ULM - The New Ulm City Council approved the removal and storage of the temporary clay berm along the Minnesota River on Tuesday.

Clay from the berm, which was constructed in response to the flooding this spring, will be stored nearby for future use. If needed, the berm will be reconstructed to prevent future flooding. Long-term, the clay will be used in the construction of the proposed permanent levee along the river.

The removal is part of requirement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for New Ulm to be able to qualify for reimbursement funds for flood-fighting costs. The City will also restore streets and lawns damaged when the berm was built.

The cost of removing the berm and performing repairs is estimated at $350,000. The initial construction of the berm has been estimated at $367,519. The City anticipates that FEMA will be reimbursing approximately 75 percent of the total cost.

"It's sad we have to go through this cycle [of removing the berm] time after time in order to qualify," said Council Chair Charles Schmitz.

The Council also turned down an offer to purchase the Budget Mart property at 15 S, Broadway St. from Brown County.

The County owns the property because it was forfeited for failure to pay taxes. The City was offered the first opportunity to acquire the land for public purposes, namely constructing a parking lot.

The Council instead moved to authorize the County to pursue the sale the of the property.

The consensus from the Council was that the property was more useful as a future tax paying business than as a public parking lot.

Because there is an unused gas station located on the land, it would have cost the City between $60,000 and $90,000 to convert the land into a parking lot, especially because removal of the fuel storage tanks could be expensive.

The Council, however, did approve the City Manager to negotiate the purchase of property at 117 S. Minnesota St. from Brett Mlaskoch, who offered the purchase.

The proposed use for the site is for the City to provide a large redevelopment of land because it lined up with adjacent land the City currently owns.

Councilor Les Schultz said he could easily see the senior housing or something similar filling the space.

An estimate of the cost of the land was not available.

Also, the Council approved motions commending retiring Assistant City Manger Tom MacAulay for 23 years of service and commending retiring Project Engineer Inspector Mark Skodje for 31 years of service.

The Council approved the designation of the alley in Block 8 through Block 32 to the south of Center Street as South Spring Alley.

City Manager Brian Gramentz said the purpose of the naming was for the benefit of properties that were located along the alley. He said it allowed the properties to be more easily located and allowed them to receive mail.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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