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Montevideo to hold hearing on rail yard request

The Montevideo City Council is hosting a public hearing April 21 to hear public comments on interest by Ritalka Inc., to use the Milwaukee Road rail yard for an industrial project. The yard is currently leased to the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center and Museum, a non-profit organization which wants to maintain its care of the site. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

MONTEVIDEO — City council members in Montevideo set a hearing for April 21 to gather community input as they consider a request by a local manufacturer to lease or acquire the former Milwaukee Road rail yard on the south end of the downtown area.

Ritalka Inc., a part of Spec

 Inc., is proposing to build an 80-foot by 120-foot facility at the site to assemble custom built rail cars. The company has built over 100 custom rail cars and has back orders for 34 cars. It does not have an assembly facility located along a rail line, and must move each car to rail tracks by using the services of a house moving company, according to information provided the city. Some of the custom-built rail vehicles weigh 350,000 pounds.

The company is seeking $1 million in public financing as part of an estimated, $1.5 million project, according to the information.

The city currently leases the rail site to the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center and Museum, a Montevideo-based, non-profit organization. The lease is up for renewal at the end of the year.

The Heritage Center and Museum has raised over $306,000 since its start in 1998, investing most of that money in Montevideo, according to information it provided the city.

It remains interested in renewing the rail yard lease and continuing to operate the museum there. It recently received a $40,000 grant from a benefactor, and is optimistic of continued support that would allow the Center to rebuild the Roundhouse at the site.

City Manager Steve Jones said city council members met in a work session to discuss the city’s options in the matter. They agreed to hold a public hearing to gather community input before making a decision.

Ritalka is also discussing the possibility of acquiring rail access for its project with the City of Clarkfield.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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