By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

Following a closed session to “develop/consider an offer for (the) purchase of real property,” the Caledonia City Council voted to buy some land last week. On June 25 members voted unanimously to accept an offer from the owner, who was willing to sell an 18.51 acre parcel (ID 211047000) located east of the City of Caledonia’s current wastewater treatment plant. The cost was $250,000.

Following the meeting, city staff confirmed that the land could play a key role in any rehabilitation or replacement plans for the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant. A study is currently underway on that topic. In addition, the property could help the city address some nagging stormwater runoff issues, and may even provide future park space or additional walking trails for residents.  

The council also held a public hearing on an ordinance to amend city code and allow the City of Caledonia to contract with the Caledonia Chamber of Commerce “to promote Caledonia as a tourism and convention destination.”

Karen Hagerott of the Caledonia Area Convention and Tourism Bureau (CACTB) asked the council to vote no on the measure, or at least table the idea for the time being. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” she said, noting several projects that the group has participated in over the years.

City clerk/administrator Adam Swann reported that smaller cities typically combine Chamber of Commerce and tourism efforts through one organization. “The city and the community have had concerns about the effectiveness of the CACTB for years...” he added. “From the city’s perspective, we actually met with the CACTB in 2017 to address concerns at that time, and were assured that things were going to be more active and proactive moving forward from the city’s and the (Caledonia) EDA’s perspective... That didn’t happen.”

Members approved the plan to utilize the Chamber of Commerce by a 4-1 margin, with the dissenting vote coming  from councilman David Fitzpatrick.  Mayor DeWayne “Tank” Schroeder suggested that tourism bureau members may want to consider joining with Chamber of Commerce volunteers to continue working for the same goals. 

The council returned to the topic of vacating adjacent portions of Grant Lane and North Decorah Street, but after well over an hour of discussions with potentially affected residents, tabled the matter once again. There was a consensus from council members to have public works/zoning director Casey Klug research utility easements in the area, however. Several residents spoke at length on the matter, but no single, clear course of action was agreed upon. The item was placed on the council’s July 8 agenda.

Members did agree to hire Ashley Schroeder as an emergency medical responder with the Caledonia Ambulance Department, however. And another vote approved the promotion of wastewater operator Craig Nelson to the post of water/wastewater supervisor.

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