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Council deals with soccer, events center, beer licenses, lottery

The Mitchell City Council learned of a $200,000 private donation for a proposed soccer complex, got infrastructure cost estimates for some potential events center sites and introduced ordinances that would lift the cap on beer licenses but restri...

The Mitchell City Council learned of a $200,000 private donation for a proposed soccer complex, got infrastructure cost estimates for some potential events center sites and introduced ordinances that would lift the cap on beer licenses but restrict the growth of video lottery.

Everything occurred at the council's four-hour meeting Monday at City Hall. Dozens of people attended.

The name of the $200,000 donor is being withheld until the May 21 council meeting, but Councilman Dan Allen said he personally confirmed the donation Monday.

The announcement of the donation was part of a presentation by a task force of a $1.85 million proposal for a 10-field soccer complex. Council members indicated what appeared to be unanimous support for the project but said they wanted some time to mull over the proposal before voting on it, and they agreed to place the matter on the agenda May 21.

Councilman Marty Barington was on the task force and urged the council to support the proposal.

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"This complex will be state-of-the-art and the best in the state of South Dakota," he said.

The council already has acquired land for the fields near the airport in northern Mitchell.

The funding package outlined by the task force Monday included $1.15 million in city funds over four years and $700,000 in private funding. The private funds would come from donations, business sponsorships and sales of memorial bricks. The task force hopes to break ground on the complex next spring.

Soccer enthusiasts have been lobbying for a new complex, saying the current five-field setup at Cadwell Park is inadequate for the 700-plus children who play soccer in the city.

Events center sites

Public Works Director Tim McGannon said infrastructure costs on a "green acre" events center site could be as much as $1.8 million more than on a downtown site, but unknown land acquisition prices could add to the costs downtown.

McGannon said infrastructure work on a green acres site would include dirt work, parking lots and roads. Those costs for the two sites along the state Route 37 bypass would be about equal, McGannon estimated, at $2.3 million for a site owned by Chuck Mauszycki on the west side of the bypass and $2.2 million for a site owned by the city on the east side of the bypass.

Mauszycki has offered to give his site to the city in exchange for some street and drainage work in his development, where the work is scheduled to be done anyway with new property tax dollars generated in a special district created previously by the City Council.

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Infrastructure costs downtown would include demolishing buildings and relocating utilities and would total about $500,000 to $600,000, McGannon said. That estimate does not include the cost to acquire properties or add any new parking.

After McGannon's presentation, Mauszycki used some numbers of his own to lobby for his site. He noted that it would cost about $1.5 million to make a 2,700-space parking lot at his bypass site. To add spaces for 2,700 vehicles downtown, he said, the city would have to spend at least $12.8 million to acquire and demolish numerous downtown properties.

The events center proposal, which is still in the design process, includes an athletic arena with at least 7,000 seats and enough floor space to accommodate events such as the state pool and dart tournaments.

Beer, video lottery

The council introduced two ordinances that would remove the city's cap on beer licenses but would not allow video lottery with any new beer licenses or wine licenses.

The twin proposals aim to stop the growth of video lottery while allowing businesses such as restaurants to obtain beer licenses that have been off limits because of the cap.

The ordinances received the first of their two required public readings, despite some opposition to the removal of the beer-license cap. The second reading and vote on the ordinances could happen at the council's next regular meeting, May 21.

On-sale beer licenses are capped at one per 1,000 population. One of the ordinances would lift that cap but would not allow any new beer licenses to be used in conjunction with video lottery. Establishments that already have beer licenses with video lottery endorsements would not be affected. Also, the ordinance would prohibit the issuance of an on-sale beer license to an establishment that has a wine license with video lottery.

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Councilmen Britt Bruner and Travis Carpenter voted against conducting the first reading of the ordinance dealing with the beer license cap, but the motion to conduct the first reading passed by a vote of 5-2.

Bruner said he was not comfortable opening up beer licenses to all comers.

"It puts us on a slippery slope," Bruner said, "and once we're on the slope there's no climbing back up."

Councilman Ken Tracy spoke in favor of the ordinance.

"It allows restaurants to serve malt beverages, but it doesn't proliferate or advance video lottery," Tracy said.

Local bar owner Robin Ackman spoke against the ordinance, saying there are beer licenses currently for sale and that lifting the cap would devalue those existing licenses.

The other ordinance would forbid video lottery with any new wine licenses, or any wine licenses that were previously issued without a video lottery endorsement. Establishments that already have a wine license with video lottery would not be affected. The first reading of that ordinance was conducted without opposition.

Other business

The council took numerous other actions Monday evening, but because the meeting ran until about 11 p.m. The Daily Republic was not able to include those actions in this edition.

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