Two property owners requested the extension of Wright Street. The Brainerd City Council decided the two property owners would pay the construction cost of approximately $1.2 million.
In September, the council approved a recommendation from the Brainerd Economic Development Authority. The EDA recommended the city purchase 25 acres for $200,000 (20 buildable acres) from one property owner and also accept a donation of 81.5 acres with an appraisal price of $757,500, thereby waiving the property owner's assessments of $700,000.
The EDA also recommended the city accept a donation of 20 acres, valued at $240,000 (10 buildable acres) from the other property owner. This property owner's assessment of $460,000 would also be waived.
In January 2007, Brainerd officials and Oak Lawn supervisors met to discuss issues relating to the extension of Wright Street crossing fairground property located in Oak Lawn Township. The question was asked, why couldn't Willow Street be extended east, crossing the 81.5 acres that had been donated to the city? Staff informed the committee the 81.5 acres was all wetlands with no development potential and it would be impossible to construct a road and utilities through there.
In further research, it was learned the county assessor's records show the 81.5 acres has a market value of $20,900 - not the $757,500 shown in the appraisal. It was also learned the property owner requested in the land purchase agreement the city would acknowledge, in writing, this 81.5 acres was a gift and had a current fair market value of $869,500. Based on this new information it is very apparent I made a mistake in voting for the EDA recommendations as presented to the council.
Has there been misrepresentation on the true value of this land? If so, we elected officials can correct this mistake by not allowing the $1.2 million construction cost and $200,000 land purchase become the burden of Brainerd taxpayers.
At Monday's council meeting, I will ask the council to reject the donation of 20 acres of land. And I will ask for an investigation to determine if we can cancel the agreement for the 25 acre purchase and the 81.5 acre gift.
BOB OLSON is a Brainerd City Council member.
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