WINSTED, MN – At a special meeting Thursday, July 13, the Winsted City Council decided to take one small step in acquiring land for the airport runway paving project.
The council plans to formally approve a contract with ProSource Technologies (a consulting firm that specializes in right-of-way and site acquisition services) at its regular meeting, Tuesday, July 18.
The contract will be for a title search and first meeting with owners of two of the properties the city hopes to acquire, at a cost not to exceed $5,000.
“This first meeting will tell us a lot,” commented Ron Roetzel, aviation group manager with Bolton & Menk.
Roetzel noted that ProSource has a “long history of addressing these types of issues,” and knows how to approach property owners. He noted that perceived vs. actual impact can sometimes be different, and ProSource listens to property owners’ concerns.
In order for the paving project to be successful, a total of eight landowners must agree to sell a portion of their properties. The two that the city is working with first are the Otto property and the Winsted Farmers Co-op Creamery, because they are considered the most “unwilling” sellers.
If paving takes place, the city will be reimbursed for 95 percent of its land acquisition fees through a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
If an agreement cannot be reached with all landowners, the city would not be reimbursed unless it chooses to acquire the land through eminent domain. Council Member Tom Ollig said the city will not go this route. He explained that the city attempted to take a property this way many years ago, and it caused “hard feelings” that lasted for generations.
After the $5,000 agreement is approved July 18, ProSource will seek meetings with the Otto property and the Winsted Farmers Co-op Creamery owners and report back. From there, the council can decide to either move forward with another step in the land acquisition process, or forgo paving the runway.
“As much as I’d like to see it turfed, for $5,000 we probably have to give it a shot,” said Ollig, who had been a dissenting voter in the council’s previous decision to pave the runway.
Look for more details in the Friday, July 21 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.