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City declares building on Campbell's site as surplus property

WORTHINGTON -- With economic development considerations on their minds, the Worthington City Council opted Monday night to declare a city-owned building as surplus property and sell a separate such piece of land.

Following a discussion of approximately 40 minutes, council members voted unanimously to declare the blue building located at the former Campbell Soup Co. site as surplus property. The 100 feet by 220 feet building was the subject of a recent inquiry to the city regarding a potential purchase; Smith Trucking currently leases the building and is also interested in buying it.

Mike Smith, vice president of Smith Trucking, told the council that he had no intention of forcing the city to rush any process of declaring the property as surplus and then selling it. He said his company stepped forward and expressed interest as a result of the other undisclosed offer, adding that a verbal agreement had been made several years earlier between city officials and Smith Trucking on giving Smith an opportunity to buy the building when the city was ready to move in the direction of a sale.

Alderman Lyle Ten Haken noted that Smith Trucking has no plans to remove concrete at the blue building site, while the other interested party plans to do so.

"That's a significant expense," said Ten Haken, who wondered if there was an approach that could potentially satisfy both parties.

Alderman Ron Wood said Smith Trucking deserved an extra look with the blue building because of its lease history with the city.

"Do we have some obligation because the property has been improved since the lease began?" Wood asked. "We need to take that into consideration, I think, in terms of the value added."

Alderman Scott Nelson lamented the possible relocation of the building.

"Am I the only one who thinks the building should stay?" wondered Nelson, who got support from fellow Alderman Mike Woll. "There is a lack of commercial buildings in the city."

The council considered doing nothing or declaring the building as surplus property, as well as possibly establishing a method for its sale. Alderman Mike Kuhle was ready to move forward quickly.

"We've got two people at the table and two chances to move economic development forward," Kuhle stated. "Let's move it now."

Council members ultimately resolved to simply declare the property as surplus.

"This sets the ball in motion for staff to start working on a process (for a sale)," Mayor Alan Oberloh said.

In the other matter involving a surplus property, the council approved the sale of a 193 feet by 360.74 feet piece of land located between Rowe Avenue and Oxford Street to Bedford Industries. The price of the acquisition is $38,214, which equates to about 55 cents a square foot.

Bedford Industries plans to construct a 30 feet by 128 feet storage building on the site. The purchase price breaks down to $17,292 cash at closing and $20,922 financed through a forgivable loan.

In other business, the council:

* Heard a presentation from Director of Public Works Jim Laffrenzen about the proposed relocation of the fishing pier at Sailboard Beach. The pier has sustained moderate damage as a result of high winds over the past several years, resulting in major repairs and modifications.

Wood said he was against moving the pier and added the annual Windsurfing Regatta event "would be very difficult" with its absence. The new site being touted is at Slater Park.

Kuhle also spoke in favor of keeping the pier at the current location.

"I think there needs to be a dock down in that area," he said. "It's used pretty heavily, I believe."

* Heard a presentation from Worthington District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard about the planned tennis court collaborative project.

Landgaard's project recommendation, made in the wake of higher-than-expected bidding, would result in $805,505 in expenses. That number is $150,505 less than the $655,000 in revenue currently available from the city, school district, business contributions and the U.S. Tennis Association

"We really don't know where the Board of Education is on this," Wood said. "I would suggest not closing the door, but finding out where John's board is."

The council elected to take no action.

* Approved the third and final reading of an ordinance that would allow recreational vehicle parking in residential districts for a $50 permit fee.

Ten Haken, Woll and Wood voted in favor; Kuhle and Nelson were against.

"Our current ordinance doesn't allow this to happen at all, and this ordinance provides some leniency," Ten Haken said.

* Approved the third and final reading of a snow removal ordinance. Among other changes, the ordinance allows a snow emergency to be declared and vehicles to be towed to facilitate snow removal.

* Approved a special use permit that will allow Frank E. Davis III to utilize a portion of the property at 1224 Second Ave. to operate a small engine repair business.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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