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Council lets WES off the hook

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council accepted a proposal Monday night by Wind Energy Services Co. to release the company's lease with the city.

City of Worthington
Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council accepted a proposal Monday night by Wind Energy Services Co. to release the company's lease with the city.

Citing the economic recession, WES is closing its satellite operation in Worthington's Training and Testing Center and consolidating all its operations in Gainesville, Texas.

"We leased this property in good faith that they would be here," said Mayor Alan Oberloh. "But I don't have a real issue with subletting it."

Council members voted unanimously to release the company from the remainder of its lease for the cost of $36,000 -- the equivalent of what WES would pay for its third year in the building.

The company had proposed a one-time payment of one year's lease, or $33,000, in exchange for the release of the remaining 24 months on its lease term.

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The three-year lease does not cover the incurred expenses -- about $200,000 in the WES space alone -- an occupancy longer than that time period would be required to recoup costs and produce revenue.

The city will need to find another tenant to fully recover money spent on development of the facility, which was the shell of a building as recently as last summer.

Community and Economic Development Director Brad Chapulis said some parties have expressed interest in leasing the space but added, "It is a secluded market. The contracts and the grants that we got to build it indicate (tenants) have to be bioscience-related."

"I'm for taking the money and re-lease it." said Alderman Scott Nelson. "I got to believe in 12 months' time we could find somebody,"

After more than a half-hour of discussion, council members also voted 3-2 to approve the installation of a spray loading pad and chemical storage building at Worthington Municipal Airport at a cost of about $130,000, to be funded with hospital sale proceeds. The vote was split with Lyle Ten Haken and Ron Wood voting against the resolution.

* Approved a $29,800 disbursement to the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. for the BIO and Wind conferences, design work for the Training and Testing Center laboratory and economic development marketing material.

* Set the next regular city council meeting for 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at City Hall.

* Authorized the interim agreement for the formation of Southern Minnesota Regional Dispatch Center, following review of changes to the agreement. The city is one of four entities; the others are Nobles, Murray and Rock counties.

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The city will have four representatives on the center's interim board, three of whom will have voting privileges. The counties will each have two representatives and a sheriff.

The participating entities will finance the center using a population-based formula.

* Approved a first reading of a proposed ordinance establishing fines for limited parking zones.

* Awarded the contract for the fuel improvement project at the municipal airport to Westmor Industries for $174,457. The project includes the installation of a 12,000-gallon capacity tank for storage of Jet "A" fuel, replacement of the fuel dispensing systems for both products and the installation of an additional credit card controller.

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