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September 26, 2022

9/16/2022 1:43:00 PM
Taylors Falls hotel agreement extended, levy won't change much

The real estate deal that had a deadline of September to sell the city lot on mainstreet Taylors Falls to a boutique hotel developer, has been extended.  Would-be buyer Amy Dills acknowledged defaulting on the original deal, and asked the city council Monday night this week to give her more time to finish engineering details and line up financing. The deadline for the sale was moved to December 26.

The goal is to wrap up the transaction in 2022.  The site is part of the empty lots just north of the Drive In that the city acquired from MnDOT years ago when the state highway maintenance facility relocated to near the fire hall.

Dills said she apologizes for the lack of communication in recent weeks but she has been engrossed in constructing a family home on Wild Mountain Road.

“I intend to see this through, whatever it takes,” she promised council of the hotel project.

Council member Troy Aanonsen voted no.  He has opposed the downtown project from the start of the talks and Council member Mary Jo Murphy was absent.

The Heritage Park overlook restroom building was approved for a change order, to add another $5,200 for a cement ramp providing handicap accessibility.  The bathrooms were budgeted for $54,000 maximum and the project is still coming in $900 under-budget.

Another change order came in from Lawrenec Creek Contracting for the sidewalk project on First Street.

The old sidewalk was removed and workers found the railing attachment removal would mean damaging a retaining wall. The solution was to widen the actual sidewalk by about a foot, and put railings into the base instead. The project is 600 feet long so the added cement and labor came to $16,884.  Council member Annonsen opposed the change order, as he also opposed doing the sidewalk.

A land donation from the estate of Lowell Burton Nelson was formally accepted 4-0.  The lot has been maintained for years by the city already and is situated next to the wastewater lift station-gas station area by the bridge.

Council member Aanonsen voted no again on a motion to close out the data breach.

investigation billing. Investigator Joan Quade’s final costs were $18,156.  Council member Aanonsen questioned various line items in the accounting of her services and stressed he was against doing the investigation from the start.

Council member Ross Rivard, who was city contact for the investigation as the Deputy Mayor, said the state mandated the data release be investigated under state Data Privacy Law.  The city had no choice, Rivard added.

The payment is being taken out of a line item set aside for a “deputy city clerk” position which is not filled.

Council set the maximum levy for next year on a 4-0 vote.  The levy is up a half percent to $692,635. Council noted the rate will be about 52 percent under the new levy which is continuing a decline over about 20 years.  The hearing for public input is December 12 and then council adopts a final levy, which can not increase from this action but can be decreased.

Dimitry Tomasevich Project Manager for MnDOT on the Osceola Bridge replacement, gave council an update.  The construction isn’t slated to begin until 2026 but council asked Tomasevich to be sure and advocate for traffic detours and management of vehicles in Taylors Falls’ interests.  When the span at Osceola is torn down there will be about two seasons of closure expected and detours are downriver and upriver, at Taylors Falls.
Rivard stressed semi truck numbers need to be considered for their impact if routed through Taylors Falls.

Mayor Buchite also suggested working closely with emergency medical services used by Minnesotans but based in west Wisconsin. He said a new temporary base for ambulances will probably be necessary.

Council member Larry Julik Heine said Taylors Falls anticipates the added detour traffic to be one “gigantic nightmare” and asked MnDOT and Wisconsin DOT to seriously consider any engineering and traffic controls possible to reduce the negative impacts.

The 70-year-old Osecola bridge replacement is in its fnal reviews (story Press Sept.8) and a “preferred alternative” alignment is to be chosen by early 2023.

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