Wadena considers whether to demolish grandstand
Sheldon Monson of the Wadena County Ag Society asked the Wadena City Council for an extension before demolition of the fairgrounds grandstand which was damaged by the June 17 tornado.
On the Dec. 14 meeting, Monson said he had Tim Tobin of Seating and Athletic Facility Enterprises look at it and said the existing structure could be salvaged.
"He said it would be about half the cost of a new grandstand," he said.
Monson had found a 1974 lease agreement which came from the Wadena County Board and said the Grandstand was co-owned by the Ag Society, City of Wadena and Wadena County.
Mayor Wayne Wolden and City Attorney Jeff Pederson said the city of Wadena had been established as the owner.
City Administrator Brad Swenson said that FEMA had gone through all the documents and established that the city was the owner.
"You're opening up a huge can of worms," he said. "I think it's probably fair to have a meeting of some committee of the county and the Ag Society and the city to try to resolve this. I agree with Jeff, I feel we have resolved it, but if we need to re-open that, so be it."
Swenson said that advertising for bids had gone out, but they would not be awarded for a while.
"There is time in the next couple of weeks here," he said. "I can't leave a bunch of contractors just hanging out there wondering what's going on."
Council member Don Niles asked Monson about the fairgrounds and the Center for Rural Design.
"We are near completion on the first building out there," Monson said, adding that the fairgrounds should be used more than just a few days every year.
"We want the facility to be used more throughout the year by the community," he said.
Economic Development Director Dean Uselman said he was working with a client who is interested in an events center.
Council member Kay Browne said it was important how the fairgrounds turned out because the unsightliness of U.S. Highway 10 has been a concern for a long time.
The Wadena Pioneer Journal and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.