The city will retain the Environmental Law Group to provide legal counsel and assistance to city officials in the potential sale of the Wausau Paper facility.
City officials approved the move at the Brainerd City Council meeting Monday. There will be no cost to the city.
The city of Brainerd placed a bid on the hydroelectric dam in August, which is being sold separate from the building facility itself. A potential buyer of the building facility has been in discussions with city officials but the name has not yet been released.
Brainerd legal counsel from the Kennedy & Graven law firm requested city officials retain the law group to provide advice on specific environmental issues relating to the project and to identify any concerns on the site.
City Administrator Theresa Goble said there will be no cost to the city, as Minnesota Power pledged $5,000 and the Initiative Foundation pledged funds as well.
Goble said the potential facility buyer offered additional monetary help, should the city request it.
City councilwoman Mary Koep questioned how reliable the study would be if it is funded through a group that might have interest in the outcome. Koep said she would vote against the motion if the bill came to the city.
Goble said the law group will not know who is contributing the funds, as it is the city that is paying the bill with funds given to the city beforehand.
After the city placed the bid on the dam a few months ago, the bid was “looked favorably upon” by Wausau officials, who drafted a letter of intent with stipulations on officially accepting the bid.
The letter was reviewed by the city attorney and changes were suggested. Recently the two lawyers agreed on a final document.
The letter of intent allows the city 90 days to do their due diligence with an 10 percent escrow amount paid to Wausau. If, after the 90 days, the city decides not to move forward with the purchase, the escrow amount is refunded.
In that period, there will be inspections done by Brainerd Public Utilities consultants and review of any reports that will be made available to BPU.