Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Public art location set for Whiteside Park flower garden

Council OKs Community Center purchase option

Keith Vandervort
Posted 10/27/21

ELY –The relocation of donated canoe statues in Whiteside Park, and progress on the sale of the former Community Center building were addressed by city council members here last week.The …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Public art location set for Whiteside Park flower garden

Council OKs Community Center purchase option

Posted

ELY –The relocation of donated canoe statues in Whiteside Park, and progress on the sale of the former Community Center building were addressed by city council members here last week.
The city’s Park and Recreation Committee made their recommendation for locating two bronze statues, to be donated by Bill and Holly Rom, within Whiteside Park.
Last summer, the Roms proposed to donate two bronze statues, one depicting a historic Voyageurs scene in a full-size canoe, and the other a one-fourth size paddler and canoe. They presented their idea with the hope of placing the statues in prominent places in the park.
After deliberation on a suitable location, the committee opted to ignore the Roms’ desire to have the sculptures prominently displayed in two open spaces within the park.
Park and Rec Committee chair Heidi Omerza said the committee recommended the statues be located in the flower beds in the middle of the park. No reason was given for the location change.
Mayor Roger Skraba repeated his opposition to having two similar pieces of art in the park, and suggested that the smaller of the two canoes be located in Semer’s Park.
“I think Semer’s would be a great location for that canoe,” he said. “I know this is a new idea and has never been brought up. This is my personal opinion. And I think putting the sculpture in the flower bed is a great idea.”
The council approved the committee’s recommendation on a 6-1 vote with Skraba voting no. The sculptures will be completed and installed next summer.
Council members approved an “option to purchase” agreement for the former Community Center building with Matthew Stupnik, of Dellwood, giving the potential buyer up to six months to come up with a plan. The agreement could clear the way for the landmark to be returned to the city’s tax rolls.
According to City Attorney Kelly Klun, the agreement allows for a six-month timeline to determine a fair-market value for the building, complete a hazardous material environmental assessment, and to review the buyer’s architectural plans, budget and cost estimates.
“In this agreement we are going to commit to completing a level one environmental assessment at a cost of a couple thousand dollars, and in return we are looking for the buyer to show us his plans for the building,” Klun said. “From there we would move forward with determining a purchase price based on fair market value and amended depending on the economic value it would have for the city, at the council’s sole discretion.”
Skraba questioned one of the terms of the deal, Stupnik’s exclusive option to buy the Community Center. Klun indicated the city could still show the building to other would-be buyers during the six-month option window, and the city retains control of the facility. She added that the potential buyer can withdraw his offer at any time during the six-month period.
Council member Al Forsman said, “I would love to see what he’s proposing. I think six months is quite quick when you’re talking something of this nature.”
The former Community Center, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant since 2014, when the city closed the facility after building a new library. Efforts to find new life for the building face the reality that major renovations and repairs are estimated to be almost $3 million.
The building returned to city ownership last year after it was owned briefly by the K America Foundation. Their plan to repurpose the building into a venue for Korean culture camps never materialized.
Council members voted 6-0 to enter into the option-to-purchase agreement.
Council member Angela Campbell abstained from voting on the motion. “Opposed,” she said. Then she added, “I’m going to abstain. I see a better use for the Community Center.” She did not reveal what her plan was.
Other business
In other business, the council:
• Approved a Commercial Renovation Loan for Ely Portage LLC, 18 E. Sheridan, for $17,500.
ELY –The relocation of donated canoe statues in Whiteside Park, and progress on the sale of the former Community Center building were addressed by city council members here last week.
The city’s Park and Recreation Committee made their recommendation for locating two bronze statues, to be donated by Bill and Holly Rom, within Whiteside Park.
Last summer, the Roms proposed to donate two bronze statues, one depicting a historic Voyageurs scene in a full-size canoe, and the other a one-fourth size paddler and canoe. They presented their idea with the hope of placing the statues in prominent places in the park.
After deliberation on a suitable location, the committee opted to ignore the Roms’ desire to have the sculptures prominently displayed in two open spaces within the park.
Park and Rec Committee chair Heidi Omerza said the committee recommended the statues be located in the flower beds in the middle of the park. No reason was given for the location change.
Mayor Roger Skraba repeated his opposition to having two similar pieces of art in the park, and suggested that the smaller of the two canoes be located in Semer’s Park.
“I think Semer’s would be a great location for that canoe,” he said. “I know this is a new idea and has never been brought up. This is my personal opinion. And I think putting the sculpture in the flower bed is a great idea.”
The council approved the committee’s recommendation on a 6-1 vote with Skraba voting no. The sculptures will be completed and installed next summer.
Council members approved an “option to purchase” agreement for the former Community Center building with Matthew Stupnik, of Dellwood, giving the potential buyer up to six months to come up with a plan. The agreement could clear the way for the landmark to be returned to the city’s tax rolls.
According to City Attorney Kelly Klun, the agreement allows for a six-month timeline to determine a fair-market value for the building, complete a hazardous material environmental assessment, and to review the buyer’s architectural plans, budget and cost estimates.
“In this agreement we are going to commit to completing a level one environmental assessment at a cost of a couple thousand dollars, and in return we are looking for the buyer to show us his plans for the building,” Klun said. “From there we would move forward with determining a purchase price based on fair market value and amended depending on the economic value it would have for the city, at the council’s sole discretion.”
Skraba questioned one of the terms of the deal, Stupnik’s exclusive option to buy the Community Center. Klun indicated the city could still show the building to other would-be buyers during the six-month option window, and the city retains control of the facility. She added that the potential buyer can withdraw his offer at any time during the six-month period.
Council member Al Forsman said, “I would love to see what he’s proposing. I think six months is quite quick when you’re talking something of this nature.”
The former Community Center, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant since 2014, when the city closed the facility after building a new library. Efforts to find new life for the building face the reality that major renovations and repairs are estimated to be almost $3 million.
The building returned to city ownership last year after it was owned briefly by the K America Foundation. Their plan to repurpose the building into a venue for Korean culture camps never materialized.
Council members voted 6-0 to enter into the option-to-purchase agreement.
Council member Angela Campbell abstained from voting on the motion. “Opposed,” she said. Then she added, “I’m going to abstain. I see a better use for the Community Center.” She did not reveal what her plan was.
Other business
In other business, the council:
• Approved a Commercial Renovation Loan for Ely Portage LLC, 18 E. Sheridan, for $17,500.
• Received a 2020 U.S. Census report that indicated a city of Ely population of 3,268, down from 3,460 in 2010. There are 1,961 total housing units in the city, with 346 vacant.
• Approved an application from the Knights of Columbus Council 3238 to conduct Bingo games on Nov. 21 and Dec. 12 at St. Anthony’s Church.
• Received a 2020 U.S. Census report that indicated a city of Ely population of 3,268, down from 3,460 in 2010. There are 1,961 total housing units in the city, with 346 vacant.
• Approved an application from the Knights of Columbus Council 3238 to conduct Bingo games on Nov. 21 and Dec. 12 at St. Anthony’s Church.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here