O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Sutherland Council Approves Sale


Sutherland Council Approves Sale

For months the Sutherland Council has heard about the construction of a medical clinic on a newly cleared lot at the corner of Ash Street and West 2nd Street. A written proposal was submitted to the council at its regular meeting on June 3 where a resolution to sell was approved and a Public Hearing date set for Monday June 17.

At the public meeting on Monday June 17 Council members Jack Wallinga and Dennis Templer were not in attendance. No public comments were submitted to the clerk. Mari Radtke, as reporter and as taxpayer was the only person, including council members present, with questions.

According to Colleen Johnson, the only development representative present for the hearing noted that this is only a proposal and no agreement with a tenant will be in place until they obtain ownership of the land. Jim and Colleen Johnson as developers have offered $1.00 for the 2 lots. Mercy One is their intended tenant.

When asked if there were any terms about the condition of the building or timeline for returning the lot with the building, as was a repeated statement by Jim Johnson in multiple public meetings, the reply from C. Johnson was that their lawyer advised them to hold back on it as a gift. Council member Bruce Engelke replied, "It was said that it would be gifted back. I have no doubt that someday it will be."

Johnson was asked as well as council if any conditions have been discussed to prevent the property from being put into some kind of property exempt entity. The total cost of the demolition reached approximately $84,000. The city was reimbursed by IDNR recycling grant $43,060.64 and Sutherland Economic Development paid the difference.

Johnson's reply to keeping the property on the tax rolls so that the city could receive some benefit for its investment was that it was private property. They could do what they wanted with it.

Minutes from Economic Development were not readily available, but from the 2 members present there was no recollection of any effort by the committee to keep the property on the tax rolls for any period of time.

Council members present also confirmed that there was no effort to market the lot for a medical clinic to any other entity with Steve Koch saying, "We had a party step forward to do this." They also said they had no one come forward to propose more offerings. Johnson saying that she had several people ask her about being part the project. She also stated earlier that they could not say they were moving forward with a medical clinic or that they had a tenant.

Another interested party stated they were told by Jim Johnson that this project was a done deal.

Koch touted the project as a potential way to keep the existing market, aging population, from leaving the community for testing while noting that attempting to attract a clinic that could provide birth to death care for younger families as well as the current trajectory of population wouldn't make sense since there is no school in town now. He was looking to save what the city has.

The proposal to sell the 2 lots to Jim and Colleen Johnson went on to be approved in a unanimous vote of the council members present.

Bids for concrete work in East 4th Street also were discussed, but more questions arose in trying to compare apples to apples of the bids. The bids were again sent back for additional information.


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