City secures land for business, recreation
City officials are pursuing the purchase of 160 acres southwest of town for business and recreation needs.
The Baldwin City Council, during a special meeting Thursday night, unanimously approved spending $25,000 for a one-year option to purchase the acreage. Council member Joe Salb was absent from the meeting.
The farmland, owned by Baldwin resident Jim Faulkner, is located south of Orange Street and east of Lawrence Street.
"It's one of the best options, one of the biggest pieces of land next to the city," said council member Ted Brecheisen Jr.
With a price tag of $590,000, the city's next step is to consider options for paying for the land. City Administrator Larry Paine would like to do that within a year, whether the City Council seeks to purchase the land through bonds or another financing option.
However, the city can extend the purchase option a second year. Money from the purchase option would be applied toward the purchase price of the land.
"I'd like to get it done in the first year, so we can begin developing part of the property as quickly as possible," Paine said.
The city's business park east of town filled up a couple of years ago with the addition of Heritage Tractor. After having nothing to offer to several businesses interested in locating in the Baldwin area, the City Council agreed Paine and Mayor Stan Krysztof should pursue land for a second business park.
Officials anticipate attracting small businesses, such as light industry and offices, to the business park. Paine said the business park could also provide an option for rural home businesses in violation of county zoning regulations county officials have considered giving violators five years to meet new zoning standards or find a properly zoned location.
But first things first, a top priority would be the construction of baseball and soccer fields a long overdue need, Paine said. A three-field complex at Baldwin High School is shared by the Baldwin school district and the Baldwin City Recreation Commission with a lease good through 2004.
"I'm also in the back of my mind trying to allow for a recreation center, if we can figure out the funding for it," Paine said.
Once the funding is in place, there is plenty more work to do. A development plan must be drawn up in order for the property to be annexed into the city limits. Trees must be removed from the dam of the 14-acre lake. Utilities must be extended to the land.
"Once we get the property, we have to go in and do some clean up," Paine said.
Brecheisen said it was the right time to find land.
"There are a lot of pluses to it," Brecheisen said. "Land is the one thing you do run out of. We might be biting off a big hunk, but an opportunity like this doesn't come along very often for a city. There can be room for a lot of things out there."
Faulkner believes it is a smart purchase by the city.
"I think Baldwin officials made a wise decision," said Faulkner. "They sure need a city park, as well as an additional industrial park. I think it's wise to do it now while there is still land available. It's going to get more expensive.
"It's a choice piece of property for the city to buy," he said. "It would be a bad decision to put that off another five or 10 years. In that amount of time, the land close to town will be developed or not available."