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EDA not ready to fund park in Dacotah West area

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Economic Development Authority (EDA) held off on providing assistance for purchasing land for a new neighborhood park in the Dacotah West Addition.

The Dacotah West Addition, located across the Cottonwood River on the south end of New Ulm, does not have a neighborhood park. Residents in the area have to drive or take a long walk or bicycle bicycle ride to the nearest neighborhood parks such as South Park and Lincoln Park. The Dacotah West subdivision’s residents, and other residents in the area, have expressed a desire for a neighborhood park within walking distance. The city owns no land in the area for such a purpose.

The PUC recommends that in the future an elevated water storage facility (water tower) be placed in this area, but is not planning a tower until a greater number of residents move into the area.

Two landowners in the area are willing to sell their two parcels to the City. The two parcels consist of the Guldens property, asking price of $199,000 and the Retzlaff property, asking price of $40,000. The Parkland Dedication Account has $201,375 and can only be spent on land acquisition and or development of neighborhood parks.

The EDA was asked to assist in purchasing the property as the Parkland Account does not have enough funds to cover the cost.

The EDA decided to table the decision based on the response from the Park and Recreation Commission.

Monday, the Park and Recreation Commission was asked to recommend the city acquire this land, but the commission was split four-to-four on the recommendation. The Parks Commission was hesitant to approve the land acquisition because there were concerns other areas of the community were also in need of a neighborhood park and the commissioners were not certain the Dacotah West Addition deserved priority.

City Councilor and board member Les Schultz said he believed the EDA could fund some of the land acquisition. In addition to the park, the land could be used to extend a roadway.

Board member Daniel Braam said the EDA had helped with park development in the past and could do it again, but he believed the EDA needed established parameters for the types of community projects they fund. He suggested a community development fund that is budgeted each year.

Board member Michael Schwartz made the motion to table. He believed Park and Rec was the main body for park development and could not support any action based on their split decision. Also, the PUC’s plans for this area were still in question. Schultz seconded the motion.

The motion was unanimously approved.

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The board agreed to purchase Customer Relationship Management Software for $22,719.38. The cost includes the set-up fee and an annual subscription fee of $10,219.38.

A Customer Relationship Management Platform will provide basic features for capturing company and contact information. It keeps track of interactions with those businesses.

City Manager Chris Dalton said it will also city staff to upload information on city businesses that can be accessed by other licensed users in the city for quick access. The software would allow for easier sharing of information. It would enable the city to have an easy data entry platform with the ability to collate information, categorize it, relate it to other data, and search businesses based on specific criteria. It will also enable data retrieval via intelligent reporting and analytics.

Braam made the motion to approve the purchase agreement. It was unanimously approved.

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The EDA received an engineering report for soil testing at the potential Garden Terrace III site. In September, the EDA approved a proposal from AET to conduct soil testing. AET is not suggesting soil remediation because alternative options that are more cost-effective are available including aggregate piers or helical piers. The report is available to show to potential developers.

Board president Charlie Schmitz said he received calls about why the EDA was looking for developers for Garden Terrance III instead of the EDA developing it.

City Manager Chris Dalton said an EDA development was a possibility, but then if a third party developed the site there would be no debt on the EDA’s end and the same result would be achieved.

Board member Braam said he received questions about why the EDA was getting into rental housing. He believed this soil test was moving options forward. The EDA could develop it in-house or with a developer but this test signifies the board is moving forward with that site.

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