NEW ULM - The former Marktplatz Mall sign in the City Hall parking lot may be headed to a sale to an unnamed local business after the City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to pursue drawing up potential sale and lease documents.
The sign has been something of a minor landmark in New Ulm due to its downtown location and infamous tendency to create "whistling" sounds during strong winds. The sign was constructed on city property as a lease agreement with whatever entities owned the Marktplatz Mall at the time. But, after the lease ended without renewal and utilities went unpaid for years, the City took back ownership of the sign.
Since an unidentified local business has approached the City about buying the sign, the Council strongly approved seeking out contracts to sell the sign and then lease the spot it occupies to that business. The business has stated it would cover the roughly $50,000 to $80,000 cost to refurbish the sign. The proposed agreement would also allow the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce to use 25 percent of the sign's advertising time.
The other options the City could have pursued included refurbishing the sign itself or spending $10,000 to tear it down to build two new parking slots. The City initially considered remaking the sign without electronics in a design similar to the town's entrance signs.
When the new sale and easement proposals are drawn up, they will be presented to the Council for final approval.
The Council also approved renaming the portion of North German Park immediately surround the New Ulm Civic Center to Hans Joohs Park.
The change was requested by the New Ulm Sister Cities Commission to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hans Joohs Exchange Program. The initial request sought to rename all of North German Park, but the Council determined the area would have been too large to be meaningful.
The Park and Recreation Department stated it approved of the name change.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)