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City to assess its rec facilities

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington City Council members agreed Monday night to hire a firm to assess existing services of public athletic and recreation facilities in the city.

Council members approved a maximum participation level of $10,000 provided that at least three of four entities that form the Sports Authority participate and contribute an equal dollar amount. Apart from the city of Worthington, entities involved in the project are Minnesota West Community and Technical College, the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau and Worthington Independent School District 518.

The consulting firm hired will be responsible for developing a needs assessment and master plan for recreational facilities in the city at an estimated cost of $30,000. The city's share of the cost will be from park reserves funded by the Florence Vance Trust, which is dedicated for park improvements.

Council members discussed the merits of hiring local and out-of-town firms.

"I've expressed frustration with some of the outside consultants," Alderman Mike Woll said. "I just think we often get a boiler plate with lack of local perspective."

Alderman Ron Wood explained that the difference in hiring an outside firm, as opposed to a local one, would depend on the goal of the sporting facility.

"If all we're going to do is to spend the money just for the city of Worthington, I'd agree with you," he said. "But if we're talking about making ourselves into a community that will be a hub and we have to figure out what will draw people, we're going to need somebody who knows more about sports."

In a separate matter, the council authorized eminent domain proceedings for the acquisition of two tracts of land for the U.S. 59 North infrastructure project. The project requires acquisition of all or a portion of three properties on either side of the highway. As of the city council's Jan. 9 meeting, acquisition of the piece of land on the east side of U.S. 59 has been completed.

Negotiations for the remaining two tracts on the west side of the project are still ongoing. While the council is hopeful to reach a settlement with property owners, the eminent domain proceeding will ensure the project will continue in a timely manner.

City engineer Dwayne Haffield detailed that since the appointment of Wendland, Sellers, Bromeland, P.A. of Blue Earth as special counsel for the proceedings during the Jan. 9 meeting city council meeting, negotiations with property owners have made little progress.

"One party doesn't seem to be interested and the other is sort of lagging," he added.

In other business, council:

* Approved the third of three required readings of a proposed ordinance amending Chapter 111, Section 111.33 of the Worthington City Code, which will allow minors below the age of 18 to enter establishments with a liquor license within the city with a responsible adult.

The current city code excludes the entry of minors younger than 18 unless the child is present with a parent, grandparent or a legal guardian. In the case of an establishment with on-sale intoxicating liquor or a 3.2 percent malt liquor license, the child may only be in the area of the establishment where liquor is not sold.

* Approved the city's industrial wastewater facility fund for 2012. The projected revenue and expenditure for the year is $3,306,995.

* Approved a change of order for demolition project of former YMCA building. Brad Chapulis, the city's manager of community and economic development, explained contractors had encountered tiles containing asbestos.

Proper removal and disposal of the tiles must be according to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency standards. The estimated additional cost is between $10,050 and $13,400.

* Authorized a change order for the Bioscience Training and Testing Center project. The net change resulting from the change is an additional $12,873.90 to the current project budget of $1,624,764.

Changes to the project include additional work that was not in the original scope of the project and to compliance of the emergency exits with building codes. Chapulis added that the additional cost would still result in the overall project cost being approximately $80,000 under budget.

* Approved an application for exemption from lawful gambling permit for the Nobles County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

* Set time and dates for regular city council meetings at 7 p.m. every second and fourth Monday of the month.

* Approved the 2012 Pay Equity report for 2011 data. The report is required by the state of Minnesota from the city, county and school district every three years.

Daily Globe reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321