Plans continue on proposed events center

Sarah Ebeling | Managing Editor

At last week’s city council meeting, the council granted a utility easement to Northwestern Energy. The easement will allow the company to relocate their gas regulator station from out of the flood plain to closer to the city shop on city property. The equipment will not be in the city’s way said street superintendent Mike Jorgensen. The company said they will offer the city $7500 for the rights. 

Next on the agenda was more discussion on the proposed events center. Ryan Wieman and Mark Kasten spoke to the council Kasten and said he wanted to address all the comments and rumors he is hearing. He explained to the council that as a sub committee, they are taking the information they gather and then recommending it to the council. He said the sub committee is made up of like-minded individuals who are coming together with certain ideas and talents to come up with a multi-use building that is open for all ages to utilize. 

“Currently, we are only roughly 60 days into this. A lot of stuff has transpired in the last 60 days and we understand that,” said Kasten. 

He continued, explaining that every time they have a sub-committee meeting the news of what direction they are going, what they are doing and planning hits the streets and that’s the direction they are going. 

“No. It’s not. They are just discussions that we are having and what we are going to do out of those discussions is make a recommendation, ok,” said Kasten. 

He noted that he has heard nothing but positive comments on the proposed building, except from one person who did not like the building, but it was because he wanted it to be bigger. 

The building, which was proposed to sit near the athletic complex, will now be located just south of Jones’ Food Center. Twelve acres of land, owned by Chris Poncelet, has been donated for this facility. 

Kasten said he is done talking in circles and is ready to start getting bid documents. With the inflation of the construction atmosphere, they do not know where they are as far as costs and by asking the city to spend some dollars to put together some bids to get concrete numbers, they would then know more. 

Wieman explained that they need to look at how to sell advertising in the future. He noted that the biggest talk so far was with Sanford Health and that the conversation went better than they thought. 

He said that this facility won’t be just for Parker, it’s for Turner County. 

Wieman continued, explaining that he believes Sanford will be a player or partner with this building. The hospital starts their allocations in July and so they want to know what they are going to be a part of this. He noted that he is going to be asking for a minimum of $250,000 over a 10 year commitment. 

Another option will be selling the courts, the floor or the walls. Wieman said he is hoping to get $40-50,000 a year for 10 years and thinks he could get half or three-quarters of the building cost back over time with advertising. 

“Businesses are eager to support this,” said Wieman. 

Poncelet spoke on his donation. He explained he feels this is one area that with something like this facility, it could bring in other things. He noted that his only qualification is that it be aesthetically pleasing and it must have asphalt. 

“Everything else, hands down, have at it,” he said. 

Resident Jim Kasten asked how the city will get kids safely across the highway because of the way the state laid out the corner. Mark Kasten said that kids won’t be coming unsupervised, they will be dropped off. 

Wieman noted too that he thinks realistically, it will be next fall before the building is complete. He said there are a lot of hills to climb and they want to take it all in and have the best product when it is done. 

Mayor Ron Nelson thanked the group for their work and also thanked Poncelete for his generous donation. 

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