$25,000 earmarked for civic center

The Princeton city civic center rehabilitation project is getting a $25,000 boost from the city’s railroad tax increment financing (TIF) $325,000 surplus fund, after council action last Thursday.

The council, meanwhile, didn’t act on two other requests to use some of the surplus money. One was from Carol Ossell, president of the Princeton Area Visionary Committee (PAVC), a group seeking to construct an amphitheater in Riverside Park.

The other request was from Mille Lacs County Historical Society (MLCHS) president Penny Quast to use some of the surplus money to erase the more than $62,000 in principal plus any interest in the MLCHS’s utility and street assessment.

The council has been discussing for some months now how to use its $325,000 in surplus money left over from a TIF project along former Burlington Northern railroad tracks in Princeton.

Not surprisingly, there has been no lack of requests for that money.

Ossell has been pushing to get as much as $90,000 from the fund to help relocate a city water main in Riverside Park. That has to be done in order to construct an amphitheater there. The stage would have the Rum River as a backdrop.

Quast told the council last Thursday how the historical society was able to get a grant to get an architectural assessment on what is needed to redo the depot center’s deteriorating roof and trim.

The historical society had that done, which is a prerequisite to getting a grant for the roof work, she said.

Council member Paul Whitcomb, meanwhile, has been asking in the past several weeks for some of the surplus TIF money to help rehab the deteriorating civic center in the north end of the city. Whitcomb, who is on the civic center rehab committee, repeated the request last Thursday, saying, “I think the civic center (request) is a no brainer.”

Toward the end of the discussion, council member Dick Dobson spoke up for action on the civic center request. “Just to help move the civic center project, for sure we should allocate money tonight,” he said.

Dobson then made a motion to take $25,000 out of the TIF surplus fund to go toward the civic center rehab, Mayor Jeremy Riddle seconded the motion and the council passed the motion unanimously.


Historical Society request

The council explained that a technical issue needs to be resolved before the council could use any city money to grant Quast’s historical society request.

City Attorney Dick Schieffer, who researched Quast’s request, informed the council that the city has restrictions on how much the city can give the MLCHS.

Also, the MLCHS must be affiliated with, and approved by the Minnesota Historical Society, according to Schieffer, which it is.

As far as donating to the amphitheater project, the council said that Ossell would have to first determine what the total costs in that project will be and promised more discussion on it at a future meeting.

“I have no problem with any of these things, but I don’t want to see all of the (surplus) money go away, council member Walker said about the three different requests. The council might want to think of holding onto enough of it for a possible land purchase in the future, “and there is no end to worthy projects,” he added. “I’d like to see us protect half of it.”