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Sports Authority agrees to move forward

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Sports Authority committee decided Wednesday to move forward with drafting a joint powers agreement.

With representatives from the city of Worthington, District 518, the Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota West in attendance, the committee looked for future direction.

0 Talk about it

“We have to start talking about the one issue we haven’t talked about too much — what the structure would look like as far as partnership,” said Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark, “as well as the cost association, how it would be funded and who would have voting members.”

The common theme discussed for funding has been a half-cent sales tax. However, the earliest that could be implemented for a second time in the community would be 2017.

“That’s assuming we do it immediately,” Clark said.

“Is that an automatic that they will renew that?” Bruce Viessman asked.

Clark said that seemed like a long way off, but “by the time we would make the effort and push it and make plans, we certainly have to have voter approval,” he said. “To get public support, we would want to have the package of what they would be voting on, similar to what we did with the Event Center and Memorial Auditorium.”

The committee looked at a similar agreement from the city of Marshall.

“I’ve been in the middle of this one already,” city council member Ron Wood said, who had been the interim president of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. “It’s a very well-run organization.”

The group also discussed the need for a plan to get the facilities to 2017.

“If we wait and not do anything until 2017, we’re going to have to have a bridge plan to get to where we’re at, whether it’s the fields at Minnesota West or whatever is going to happen at the schools if they move forward with new schools,” Viessman said. “We have to develop a plan to get us to 2017. If we sit here and just plan for 2017, if you think we’re far behind now, we’re going to be further behind at that point in time. That’s the other thing this group has to do.”

Each group present reiterated the desire to be a part of the committee as plans continue to be developed.

“I think the school district, the city and the college need to be defined first because the drivers are going to be those three entities,” Wood said. “That’s where you’ll hit the largest number of our constituents.”

District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said he feels the first thing needed was the joint powers. From there, a sports and recreation group can be formed. That would give the best direction, Landgaard said.

As far as priorities, Landgaard said soccer fields were at the top of the list.

“I think the first thing we need to address is soccer fields,” he said. “That takes precedence over everything else. Look at the numbers we have in soccer in high school.”

By the end of the meeting, the group agreed to work with city attorney/school board member Mark Shepherd to draft a joint powers agreement.

Also at the meeting was Chamber of Commerce executive director Darlene Macklin, District 518 Director of Management Services Dave Skog and school board member Lori Dudley, City of Worthington Director of Public Works Jim Eulberg, Minnesota West Women’s Athletic Director Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka and Scott Rosenberg, who works for the city and is a school board member.