Committee backs city of Willmar accepting gift of former tire shop property
WILLMAR — The Community Development Committee is recommending the Willmar City Council accept as a gift the former Rule Tire property at the corner of Seventh Street and Benson Avenue Southwest.
The council will consider the recommendation Tuesday night during its regular meeting.
The committee acted last week after Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson said the heirs of Jim Rule are prepared to deed the property to the city and to pay the back property taxes.
Peterson said the city has been talking to the Rule family over the past several months after the family initially offered to make a gift of the property to the city. Peterson said he looked for other people that might be in a position to accept the property as a gift.
As it turns out, he said, there were no other property owners or businesses that were qualified to take the property as a gift and still provide the tax benefits that the Rule heirs would like to see.
Peterson said the city has no definite use identified for the property. He said the pole structure behind the two red and white concrete buildings on Benson Avenue has large holes in the roof and is in far worse condition than the concrete buildings.
Demolition costs are estimated at about $50,000. He recommended the city wait on tearing down the concrete buildings but move ahead with demolition of the pole structure.
“Once we get that brought to grade, we’ll find a use for the site,’’ Peterson said. “If we can get the property for nothing and minimize our investment in it, I think we can make good things happen over there.’’
He said some ideas for future use of the site have been discussed. But there was nothing the city is obligated to rush out and do right away.
Peterson and committee members remembered when the tire shop was also a gasoline station. Committee member Jim Dokken said the concrete buildings are history.
Peterson said environmental testing indicates that there are no significant hazards on the property. He said the concrete buildings are “kind of neat’’ and that another use might possibly be found for them.
Committee Chairman Rick Fagerlie suggested the larger of the two concrete buildings could be used as a classroom for firearm instruction and that an insulated pole structure be built behind it.
He suggested the gun range, currently located in the basement of the City Auditorium, could be moved to the pole structure.
“Get it out of the auditorium so we don’t have to worry about contamination ever again for participants in the auditorium,’’ he said, referring to a lead contamination study stemming from gun use and ventilation project being studied at the auditorium.
Gesch property In other business, the committee voted to recommend the council approve a grant of property from Gesch Properties LLC to the city that would allow the city to construct 12th Street Southeast between Willmar Avenue Southeast and 11th Avenue Southeast.
Peterson recommended the action, saying 12th Street would be the only north/south connection between Ninth Street Southeast and Lakeland Drive.