FULL STORY: Worthington City Council approves contract for splash pad

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WORTHINGTON — A splash pad is officially on its way to Worthington.

The Worthington City Council on Monday approved a $490,054 contract with Edgerton contractor Hulstein Excavating to construct a splash pad in Centennial Park. The city hopes to break ground before King Turkey Day and have the project done by April 2019.

The 4,950-square-foot concrete splash pad, equipped with a water recycling system, will feature more than 30 different water features, including geysers, jet streams, fountains and colorful water-spraying accessories for kids of all ages.

The council opted to include a debris trap and rainwater diverter valve, which city staff say will save time and money in the long run.

To the shock of city officials, the contract originally came out at $599,892, but it was due to an error in the bid that was later corrected.

Movie theater discussion

Council members directed the city to continue looking into movie theater options in which the city builds the facility and rents it out to a private business.

The city contends that a private developer is not going to open a new theater without assistance or a facility in place, meaning the city must step in to make it happen. Council members didn’t debate that, but discussed how a potential $3 million building should be funded.

Councilman Larry Janssen said he has heard complaints from residents and business owners about potential tax increases if the council were to put the cost of the movie theater facility on next year’s tax levy.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the citizens of Worthington to pay for this,” he said.

Councilman Alan Oberloh said the project should be paid for with money from the city’s hospital fund, which has partially funded several projects in Worthington.

Oberloh listed several projects that have hospital proceeds dedicated to them, including $400,000 toward intersection work on U.S. 59, $1 million toward a new pavilion on the farmers market parking lot and $2 million toward the seemingly deceased WELL (Welcome, Education, Library, Livability) project that could be shifted over to the movie theater building.

Oberloh said he is fully behind the project, and said the city is not competing with private industry.

“We’re not building a movie theater, we’re building a spec building,” he said. “The spec building just happens to have a tenant.”

Councilman Mike Harmon said he has talked to a Nobles County commissioner who said the county should be involved somehow.

“I know several people in the country that I talk with who are really excited about a movie theater coming to Worthington,” he said. “They don’t like going to Sioux Falls, they don’t like 41st Street. They like coming here.”

Mayor Mike Kuhle said the council needs better clarification and more options from the city, but affirmed his support for the project.

Bedford Technology donation

New play structures for dogs will be going up in the city’s Puppy Park, thanks to a donation from Bedford Technology.

The council accepted the donation from Bedford Technology, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The pet products, which include an assortment of tunnels, hurdles and climbs, are all manufactured by Bedford Technology using the Worthington company’s recycled plastic lumber technology.

The company will highlight some of the pet products during the King Turkey Day parade, said Bedford Technology CFO Dan Greve.

Yellow Company mortgage

The council authorized a partial release of Yellow Company LLC’s mortgage with the city, allowing Aaron Marthaler’s company to sell a piece of land that once was home to Hardee’s.

The city will get an estimated $565,000 from the sale, reducing the outstanding mortgage balance to $761,508.

The council also voted to remove specific covenants from the former Hardee’s parcel that were enacted in 1982 to accommodate the business. Approval is contingent upon review by the city’s attorney.

In other news, the council:

  • Accepted a $7,176 grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Board of Directors for the purchase of active shooter vests, including 24 carriers and 48 rifle plates.
  • Approved a five-year, $24,701 forgivable loan for infrastructure improvements to a newly constructed and recently purchased house at 2217 Eleanor St. through the city’s Workforce Housing Program.
  • Entered into a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Toward Zero Deaths program from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019.
  • Vacating a portion of a utility easement along 1214 Clary St. to allow the owner of a home to construct an egress window.