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Animal sales at farmer's markets? Council hints no

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council discussed moving forward with numerous topics, including the request for a new outdoor pool in Worthington, a farmer's market ordinance, a Beach Nook request and rates for the Center for Active Living, during a special Monday morning meeting.

In response to a citizens' group for a new pool, the council decided to explore the possibility of expanding the current facility at the Worthington Area YMCA.

"I'd like to put it out there as an option to look at it," council member Mike Kuhle said of expanding the YMCA site. "I think if it would pass, I would rather do something at the current pool site, especially when it comes to management and staff."

Council member Ron Wood agreed.

"That should be only place we should consider," Wood said. "We have spent I don't know many odd hours arguing about two golf courses in the city and in that case, one is private versus two public. This would end up with two public pools in two separate locations with two separate staffs. I don't know if we can get enough lifeguards in our community to staff two pools in the summers."

Wood also talked about the financial burden.

"We spent 100-some thousand on the old pool every year," he said. "We are, in essence, spending $100,000 on this pool as we are putting the money away. We better be willing to spend $250-300,000 for pool maintenance, pool managements and contracts. I just can't see that value because when we left the outdoor pool had the smallest number of utilization."

Member Scott Nelson suggested approaching the pool committee to get its feedback as far as amenities and size.

"As far as a new pool, the facility I envisioned they were looking for when they came to see us, it was not just a swimming pool, it was an aquatic center, similar to what Pipestone has," Mayor Alan Oberloh said.

However, if a pool was added on at the current site, the state would have to be involved.

"I think that we have to find out is what is the probability MnSCU would approve this kind of add on to the footprint," Wood said.

The council gave direction to meet with representatives from the college and YMCA CEO Andy Johnson. Once information has been gathered, the council will discuss the pool again.

Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey gave a presentation to council Monday morning about a proposed change in ordnance for domesticated animals. There has been a request to allow live animals to be sold.

In Cumiskey's research, he hadn't found a farmer's market that sold live animals.

"Looking at other farmer's markets throughout the state of Minnesota and looking to see if anyone is selling live animals at farmer's markets, I have not located one," Cumiskey said. "That doesn't mean there isn't one, but in the time I spent looking at different farmer's markets and how they are run throughout the state, I haven't found one."

Oberloh wants everyone who sells at a farmer's market to register.

"I don't necessarily agree that we need a fee, but we need to register," Oberloh said, "I think we need to know who they are. Worst-case scenario, if something gets contaminated and somebody gets sick, at least we can find out if it's one of six vendors and go look at them."

The council passed a moratorium to stop farmer's markets from selling live animals until the ordinance can be rewritten.

In response to requests by Roger Grimmius in regard to the Beach Nook, the council took no action but decided to meet with the Grimmiuses to see what it would take to get the Beach Nook opened again.

"It's lots and lots of work and no return," Nelson said. "In the past, we thought it was a very nice amenity."

Along with running the Beach Nook, the business' staff also maintains the beach and the restrooms.

"If we don't do something, we ought to blow the building up and get rid of it," Wood said. "Otherwise this is going to become a place for illegal activities, and it's going to be vandalized."

The Center for Active Living (CAL) was also discussed as the final item of the meeting. Oberloh addressed the concern some have had with the annual membership rates.

"I don't think our $30 fee is out of line at all," Oberloh said. "I actually had a Facebook friend from northern Wisconsin contact me because her mother is bitter because she has to pay $2 to play cards."

Council member Diane Graber explained there is additional programming in the works.

"I understand (CAL Director) Julia (Seykora) is working toward some more academic programming," Graber said. "She has some things going with workshops for the center."

The council took no action, but wanted to encourage and support programming at the CAL.

"There are all kind of possibilities," Graber said. "I know Julia was very assertive that she is working to get programs. I think we should support her."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.