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Mitchell Baseball training ground tabled again

A second trip to the Mitchell City Council proved more fruitful for the Mitchell Baseball Association. The Mitchell City Council was more receptive to Mitchell Baseball Association's (MBA) plan to build a training facility on city property at the...

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A second trip to the Mitchell City Council proved more fruitful for the Mitchell Baseball Association.

The Mitchell City Council was more receptive to Mitchell Baseball Association's (MBA) plan to build a training facility on city property at the Cadwell Park Sports Complex. But the council had various concerns and asked MBA to return one more time with a final draft of its lease agreement.

The project, which would be funded entirely by MBA and would be built at the corner of West 15th Avenue and the South Dakota Highway 37 bypass, was tabled for discussion at a future meeting during Monday night's regular gathering at City Hall. It was the second time since October the proposal was discussed.

The council expressed several concerns, including minute details within the 20-year lease agreement, the appearance of the proposed tin structure on city property and how accessible the facility would be to the public and other athletes who don't play baseball.

MBA President Dean Sadler made his second pitch to the council on the project, and he sought a soft commitment from the board that it will consider approving the project at its next meeting. Councilman Jeff Smith and Councilwoman Susan Tjarks indicated they would be receptive to approving the project. Councilman Mel Olson, who peppered Sadler with questions about the proposal, said he would be receptive to constructing what would become a city-owned building funded entirely by the MBA.

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"We wouldn't have spent an hour talking about going down in the weeds if we were just looking to take you out and put a bullet in you," Olson joked about the lengthy discussion over small details within the lease agreement and project proposal.

Sadler, who has been grilled by the council at two meetings, responded with a quip of his own.

"I just got my stitches out from the last time I was here," Sadler said.

Monday's proposal featured a handful of changes within the lease, dropping the 25-year lease to a 20-year lease and increasing the $1 per year fee to a $300 annual fee. While council members appeared more receptive to the changes, questions remained.

At the October meeting when the proposal was first heard by the entire council, Sadler was asked why MBA doesn't train in the Davison County Fairgrounds. Sadler said there are scheduling conflicts at the 4-H grounds at the county fairgrounds. He also assured the council that the public could use the proposed facility, but he was unsure how much time would be available once the baseball players have completed their training.

"We will certainly entertain renting it out," Sadler said.

Sadler followed with a question of his own.

He asked the council what the city's risk is in allowing MBA to construct the building with private funds. If MBA does fail, Sadler said, the city would inherit a $350,000 building that could be repurposed or sold. But Sadler said MBA has no intention to fail.

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If ultimately approved, the project will require rezoning of the city property and notice will need to be given before the hearing to allow a private project to be built on public land. And for now, the project appears to have early supporters in Councilman Marty Barington and Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell.

"I don't think we want to miss out on the opportunity with the baseball association on this facility," Powell said.

And Barington agreed, saying the privately funded project could reward all participants.

"In the long run, this is a win-win situation for the city, this is a win-win situation for Mitchell baseball," Barington said.

Pool progress moving swimmingly

Mitchell's $8 million indoor aquatic facility took three important steps Monday night.

The council approved two critical items allowing the project to move forward: setting the date to open project bids for construction of the voter-approved facility for Dec. 22 and approved the plat to allow the Mitchell School District to transfer the land for the multi-million dollar addition to the Mitchell Recreation Center. Jan. 3 was also set as the date to open project bids.

The project-which will feature a competitive lap pool, spectator seating, a leisure pool and various other items-is expected to be completed by the spring of summer of 2018.

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Despite Monday night's progress, one Mitchell resident shared his concerns with the recently revealed cost to operate the structure.

Former City Council candidate Ed Potzler spoke during the citizen input portion of the regular meeting, questioning the operating expense that was estimated to cost approximately $137,000 annually-about $51,000 more than initially estimated by former Parks and Recreation Director Dusty Rodiek.

Potzler, who was a skeptic of the estimated costs from the beginning and helped circulate petitions to put the project to a referendum, said it's concerning the City Council was surprised by the new operating cost estimate. He also said he attempted to present his own cost estimate prior to the public vote in December 2015, but said his estimate never saw the light of day.

Potzler said he sent his study to the mayor, Ward 3 Councilmen Dan Allen and Marty Barington and Rodiek.

"The mayor responded with a reference to the weather and a biblical statement, and nothing was done from my City Council people," Potzler said. "And when I talked to Mr. Rodiek a number of times, he said his numbers were his numbers and he stood by them."

But Councilman Dave Tronnes reminded Potzler that not all council members supported the project.

Tronnes was one of four council members who voted against the project, joined by Councilmen Mel Olson and Barington and former Councilman Randy Doescher. Former Mayor Ken Tracy made the deciding vote to support the pool.

"So the council wasn't totally behind all the numbers," Tronnes said.

Councilwoman Bev Robinson, who replaced Doescher on the council, thanked Potzler for his comments, and said the new numbers are concerning.

Consent agenda

The council approved the following items of the consent agenda:

• City Council minutes from the Nov. 7 meeting and Planning Commission minutes from the Oct. 24 meeting.

• Various department head reports.

• A raffle permit for the Mitchell Quarterback Club with the drawing to be held at the 2016 Mike Miller Classic in December.

• Set 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 as the bid date for Curbside Drop-off Recycling City Project No. 2017-2.

• Set 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 as the date to open bids for the construction of the indoor aquatic center.

• Change Order No. 1 to Professional Services for Mitchell Municipal Airport Project No. 3-46-0037-026-2015, which would reduce the final contract by $114.92. If approved, the adjusted contract amount would be for $30,648.08.

• Set Dec. 5 as the date for a hearing on the application to transfer retail on-off sale wine license RW-6530 and package off-sale liquor licenses PL-4695 from TEAM Hause, doing business as Dakota Sunset, 1524 W. Havens Ave., to Meyers Oil Company Inc., doing business as Dakota Sunset Shell, 1524 W. Havens Ave.

• Pay estimates, gas and fuel quotations, bills, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires and authorized the payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

The council considered the following agenda items:

• Called the meeting to order, conducted the Pledge of Allegiance and conducted roll call.

• Recessed and met as the board of adjustment for to set Dec. 5 as the date for a hearing on the application of Brianna Blom and Curtis and Sandra Melor for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child care center in the residence located at 912 E. Seventh Ave.

• Tabled a conditional use permit hearing on the application of West Havens Storage until Dec. 5., then reconvened as City Council.

• Renewed the city's alcoholic beverage licenses. Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg recommended all licenses be renewed.

• Approved a $63,000 business plan for the Mitchell Recreation Center.

• Approved 2016 capital grant fund requests from Palace Transit for securement equipment, passenger buses, a paint wash bay and computer software.

• Approved Resolution No. 3397, which sets various city fees and charges.

• Approved Resolution No. 3399, which changes various park fees in city limits.

• Approved Resolution No. 3400, which amends the Corn Palace grower's contract.

• Held the second reading and adopted Ordinance No. 2555, which changes the zoning district classification in the Westwood Addition.

• Held the first reading of the alternate version of Ordinance No. 2556, which would allow for 10 members to serve on the Corn Palace Events & Entertainment Board.

• Held the first reading for Ordinance No. 2557, which would repeal and replace Chapter 5-3 of the Mitchell City Code regarding nuisances.

• Approved the Insurance Committee recommendations for 2017.

• Held an executive session to review legal counsel or review communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation.

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