Public Meeting Held on the Disposal of Mural Park
The Emmetsburg City Council met on Monday, Oct. 23 for a regularly scheduled meeting. During this meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the disposal of Mural Park located on Main Street in Emmetsburg.
“We would like to know, what does that mean in the minutes? Does that mean getting rid of it? Does that mean sell it? Does that mean What does that mean, I couldn’t tell?” asked Laura Blanchet owner of Main Street Memories Mall on Main Street.
“We had a party that was interested in putting up a retail building,” replied City Clerk Kim Kibbie. “So we cannot just sell it to that person, we have to hold a public hearing and go through all the steps. The Council did, at out last council meeting, say that if this is to be sold- if we do move forward with all the steps to sell this, there will be stipulations on this lot. It could never be made into a parking lot. It had to be a commercial building that conformed with the rest of our downtown area. So that’s where we go to the public hearing.”
“We can only give property to other government entities. We were originally approached to give the property to ECDC so they could sell it. But we can’t do that since they’re not a government entity,” City Councilman Brian Campbell explained. “We could give it to the county, we could give it to the state  but we can’t just give it to them. But in order to dispose of it, if this person wants to buy it, we have to go through the public sale and that opens it up to anybody that wants to submit a bid.”
“With those stipulations,” Councilman Bill Burdick clarified. “And there is parking in the back so I would think that would be continued parking in the future, too.”
“My concern is, just a couple of months ago we were approached about inadequate parking in that area. Is another retail business going to add to that problem? It’s not going to solve it. And there are other businesses, other buildings in the business district- one is right across the street from there. There are other opportunities. It isn’t that that is the only property that’s there,” said Leon Blanchet.
“Is there a buyer there that has the specific desire to build their own space. Is that what we’re talking about?” questioned Councilman Ryan Berkland. “So there really isn’t any other opportunities than that if you want to build.”
“It will go to the highest bidder at the auction, of course,” Burdick explained.
“And that could be an individual or a business,” Councilman Mike Hermansen expanded.
Chamber of Commerce Director Deb Hite brought up issues with parking for apartment buildings. Many apartment buildings downtown do not offer enough parking for all tenants. This is an issue as there are many streets and areas that are always “no parking” zones. Adding another retail building could potentially impact the downtown parking.
Police Chief, Eric Hanson, stated that in the mid 1990s the City tried to address the parking issues downtown. They established an area in which people could pay $60 per year to get a permit to park within a certain parking area. Hanson claimed that this agreement was utilized for only a year.
“What about behind the thrift store? Is that public parking?” Mayor Myrna Heddinger asked.
“No, there’s nine spots there. That’s private parking,” replied Deb Hite.
This poses a problem for the two-bedroom apartment buildings as the overflow car always parked by Mural Park.
“I’m going back to your original, as far as Mural Park. I’m in an adjoining office there, building. And since Horizon’s have moved into town, parking is just horrible. I still can’t understand why Horizon’s didn’t stay out in their location, but anyway. And then of course the County being in the Brink building doesn’t help either. I just cannot imagine if we bring another, you know somebody else builds and has another business, or a building in the Mural Park area,” commented Janis Campbell. “That’s my feelings on it. I mean, a park is a park. There’s a bench next to the, is it the wind energy building? And you know, at various times, those employees are out on that bench having their cigarette break.”
“We definitely are looking for opportunities for Emmetsburg to grow. And we definitely do not want to stop a commercial business that would like to come in and make our city, make something else within our city to help it grow,” Mayor Heddinger stated. “So there has to be a way we can- I mean other towns don’t have a lot of public parking either when you pull into them to try and find a place to park to do their shopping.  It’s a hazard of having business, I think.”
“I wouldn’t be opposed to selling the front part for shopping and having the back for public parking,” Burdick said. “I just didn’t want to have public parking right on highway 18 out front where we could have a shopping area.”
At this point, the retailer does not wish to be named. No action was taken on Mural Park at this time. The City Council held a public meeting to understand the feelings of the citizens of Emmetsburg regarding the disposal of Mural Park. From this point, if a buying comes forth with interest, the City Council will advertise for bids and set another public hearing, the bids would then be opened and approved or rejected.
In final business, the City Council unanimously approved Ryan Veldboom as the new Chief of Police in Emmetsburg. Current Chief, Eric Hanson, will be retiring in January.
“I wish to say, I think we are very, very fortunate community to have three officers who were so well qualified to meet this challenge of being chief of police,” Mayor Heddinger commented. “It was a tough decision.”
Brian Campbell also went on to state that he had heard of other police chief openings that did not get a single internal applicant. Emmetsburg was fortunate to have three internal applicants.