Future of hatchery is getting bleaker

NEW LONDON -- The demolition of the former fish hatchery in New London will be advertised for bids Friday, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

NEW LONDON -- The demolition of the former fish hatchery in New London will be advertised for bids Friday, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Whether the building will actually be torn down this year will be up to the contractor, said Mark Friday, DNR building manager for southern Minnesota. Landscaping work can't be completed when the ground is frozen so Friday figures the project won't happen until spring. The bids are scheduled to be opened at 2 p.m. Nov. 22 in New Ulm, Friday said.

Despite demolition plans, a Spicer woman is still looking for support to leave the building standing.

Renee Jenniges, who owns a New London business, has made arrangements to put petitions asking for the building's preservation in nine New London businesses. She hopes to have the petitions out today. Along with signatures, people will also be able to write suggestions for the building's use.

"We'll see how they go," Jenniges said. "We're hoping to get really great suggestions."


The New London City Council has been dealing with the deteriorating building for more than 20 years, asking for repairs and threatening condemnation in that time.

The wooden portion of the building was demolished and the brick portion was gutted in 2003. The building does not have sewer or water service.

Bricks are falling off the building, which was a 1941 Works Progress Administration project. Parts of the building are rotting. The roof also needs repair.

The council held a public hearing last year to get input on a proposal to tear the building down, but no one came to it.

The DNR told the council it would tear down the top portion of the building in October, but a technical glitch in the bid preparations delayed bidding the project, according to the DNR.

The bottom portion of the building needs to remain because the DNR believes it acts as part of the dam on the Mill Pond.

In September, Jenniges came forward with a proposal to purchase the building, fix it up and possibly put her massage therapy business there.

The DNR said it couldn't sell the building because of its relationship to the dam. The DNR wants to rehabilitate the dam, and the building may have to be demolished anyway because of that project. But the new dam could also have no affect on the building.


The DNR said it could leave up the building until it determines whether the dam will affect the hatchery, which could take two to five years. In that time, the DNR would not allow significant structural improvements to it, such as fixing the roof.

Jenniges offered to do some minor work such as painting the building and trimming the hedges, but the council said that wouldn't fix its safety issues.

Two weeks ago, the DNR told Jenniges she couldn't do any work to the building, Friday said.

This past Wednesday, the council discussed the building and the schedule for demolition. Council members expressed frustration with the delays because they were originally told it would be demolished in October.

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