Tom Hagert, of Forest Lake, appeared before the Columbus City Council at the July 24 meeting. Tom Hagert is the son of Elmer Hagert. Thirty years ago, Elmer Hagert donated land to the city for a park in honor of two of his four children who were mentally handicapped. Tom Hagert said those two siblings are alive and living in a group home. Elmer Hagert couldn’t sell the land because it didn’t have an easement.
City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko said the city had evaluated the land one year ago. The road leading to the park isn’t paved and it is used as a driveway. Since there were no plans to use or improve the land, the city determined it was excess and should be sold. In anticipation of selling it, the city changed the zoning from park land to rural residential at the council’s June 26 meeting.
Hagert said he and his family members knew the land was not suitable for a park. However, he was disappointed the city was going to dispose of it. He thought the land should be given back to the Elmer Hagert’s daughter, now the owner of Elmer’s old properties, or offered to the adjacent property owners.
Mayor Jesse Prenier thanked the Hagert family members present at the meeting on behalf of the City Council and the previous councils for the gift of land. Public communications coordinator Jessica Hughes said the city had just begun the process to sell the land. Staff still had to do a title review, an appraisal, and hold a neighborhood meeting before the city can sell it. Since the property belongs to the city, City Attorney Bill Griffith wasn’t sure the council could transfer the land. He said he would do research to see if it could be given away instead of sold before a final decision is made.
Parking and parks
The Park Board is planning to make improvements to the Columbus City Park. These improvements may include concrete walkways to the swing set and shelter, additional picnic tables, and electricity in the shelter.
Seven double-sided “no parking” signs mysteriously appeared near the baseball field by the Columbus Elementary School on Notre Dame Street Northeast. The signs, which had not been approved by the city, had been erected too close together. The signs read, “By order of the fire chief.”
However, Fire Chief Alan Newman did not know anything about them. After investigating, Public Works Superintendent Jim Widingstad found out residents put up the signs after a small child who had run between two cars was almost hit by a vehicle. Since it is a safety concern, Windingstad asked the council if he could put up “no parking” signs there at the correct spacing. The council said it would bring a resolution for the signs to vote on at an upcoming meeting.
The City Council also took the following actions:
— Agreed to allow a couple to install a certified cover over their pool instead of putting a fence around it. The Planning Commission is considering changing the pool ordinance to include pool covers for all residents.
— Approved the signage for the hotel being built by the Running Aces Casino and Racetrack. When the hotel is complete, changes will be made to the casino so it will match the hotel.
— Discussed choosing people to be on a committee that would oversee the 2020 census in Columbus.
The next Columbus City Council meeting takes place Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at 16319 Kettle River Blvd.