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City of Willmar, Glacial Ridge Curling Club agree club will raise $2.3M for new facility

Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — The second time was the charm for the city of Willmar and Glacial Ridge Curling Club. The two entities agreed on and approved a letter of intent to build a new curling facility on land adjacent to the Willmar Civic Center.

"I think we have a document now we both can work with and go forward with the project," said Willmar City Administrator Ike Holland at Monday's City Council meeting.

The council had hoped to approve the letter at the April 2 council meeting, but concerns from both the city and curling club regarding the direction of the project required additional discussions be had.

"This is a testament to our city administration, staff and legal department as well as Glacial Ridge being able to communicate. Communication is paramount in projects like this, keeping an open discourse," Councilor Andrew Plowman said.

While the letter itself is not legally binding, it does continue the process for the project. The next step is for the city's attorney to draw up a formal build-to-suit lease agreement based on the preliminary conditions in the letter. That agreement will also need to be approved by both parties.

"Here are the essential terms of the agreement," City Attorney Robert Scott said.

The letter says the curling club will raise the total cost for the design and construction of the curling center, not to exceed $2.3 million. Sixty percent of the cost will need to be raised and donated by the club to the city before the city will hire a firm to begin the design services for the project.

To give the curling club significant time to raise all the funds, the city could bond for 40 percent of the project total. The curling club would need to raise and donate that 40 percent to the city in time for bonding payments to be paid.

"Glacial Ridge Curling Club will be responsible for raising 100 percent of the funds," Councilor Kathy Schwantes said.

All of the donations from the curling club will be used for the design and construction of the new facility.

"This will be a city project where the city accepts funds," Scott said.

The city has agreed to fund $15,500 worth of utility connections and other related items toward the project. Willmar is also donating the land for the project.

In regard to the engineering and design of the project, the city will hire the architectural design firm or could decide to use the renderings and plans already done by Marcus Construction for the curling club. Both the city and curling club will approve the final design.

If the curling club does not agree with the design of the building, they can decide to terminate the agreement with the city and be refunded all remaining and unobligated donated money.

Once the curling facility is built, which will be the responsibility of the city, Glacial Ridge will be able to lease it from the city for $1 per year for an initial term of 25 years, with three 5-year extensions available if the curling club chooses.

"It could be up to 40 years," Mayor Marv Calvin said.

The curling club will have possession of the facility during the curling season and the city will take over from May 1 to Sept. 30.

During the curling season Glacial Ridge will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facility. The exclusion is the operation, maintenance and necessary repairs to the facility's ice refrigeration system, which will be a city responsibility year-round.

The letter of intent was approved unanimously.

"Thank you to the curlers for believing in Willmar," Councilor Audrey Nelsen said. "I am pleased we are at this point of time in our negotiations. I wish you the very best with your fundraising and I look forward to having a curling center in Willmar."