FULL STORY: WELL project gets initial nod from city

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council on Monday tentatively approved $2 million toward the proposed WELL (Welcome, Education, Library, Livability) building.

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council on Monday tentatively approved $2 million toward the proposed WELL (Welcome, Education, Library, Livability) building.


The council stipulated that the project must start by Jan. 1, 2020 to get the money, which would come from the city’s hospital sale fund. If it does, the council will consider donating the former Campbell Soup property - the proposed location for the building - which is valued at $225,000.


Nobles County has submitted a bonding request to the legislature in hopes of getting the state to fund nearly half of the estimated $31.4 million price tag. If approved, that would leave roughly $16.4 million to be funded locally.



While city council members expressed willingness to get the project done, they questioned whether all of the Nobles County commissioners felt the same way.


“My concern is the lack of overwhelming enthusiasm on behalf of the county commissioners,” said councilman Alan Oberloh. “I don't think that the offer should include property the city owns at this point, because I’m not sure they are sure that’s where they want to be. I think there’s two county commissioners that will vote against it because it’s in Worthington.”


Councilwoman Amy Ernst said she felt “underwhelming dedication” toward the WELL from county commissioners present at a joint city-county-school meeting last week.


“It’s an awesome project, but where is our cheerleader, our leader, saying let’s move forward with this?” Ernst said. “And if we don’t have that leader, I’m concerned.”



Council members said the city is putting the ball in the county’s court.


“They’ve been talking about this for years … it needs to get done,” said Mayor Mike Kuhle.


Nobles County has not yet made a financial commitment. Neither has District 518. Their next board meetings aren’t until April 3 and April 17, respectively.

Council awards contracts The council awarded a contract to Davis Furniture Company of Melrose, Wis. to replace the seats at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center. The $188,052 price tag came in at $35,155 more than the original estimate, City Administrator Steve Robinson said.



The cost to remove the seats was not included in the bid. The city will attempt to find volunteers to help remove the seats in July.


The council also awarded a $326,650.24 contract to Lake Crystal construction company GM Contracting Inc. to extend water and sewer to West Gateway Drive near Minnesota 60 and Nobles County 57. That infrastructure will provide service to a new gas station and travel center.


In other news, the council:

  • Proclaimed April 3 National Service Recognition Day to encourage residents to recognize the impact of national service in the community.
  • Accepted a $1,050 donation to the Worthington Animal Control Program from the Worthington High School Business Professionals of America.
  • Approved a new agreement with the Worthington Soccer League. The league will pay the city $4,000 to use Buss Field for organized soccer games.
  • Appointed Kathy Hayenga to the Water & Light Commission to replace Aaron Hagen.
  • Appointed Kelly Henkels to the Public Arts Commission to replace Jayme Wiertzema.
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