Headway made on new Armory site in Alexandria

This new National Guard facility would replace the Armory in downtown Alexandria.

Armory 3092.jpg
The Alexandria National Guard Armory is located at 310 Broadway. The city is exploring site options for a new National Guard Readiness Center and Field Maintenance Shop.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — The next step in the possible purchase of land for a proposed Minnesota Army National Guard Readiness Center and Field Maintenance Shop was taken at Monday’s Alexandria City Council meeting.

The council authorized staff to get quotes for appraisal services in order to evaluate potential sites.

This new National Guard facility would replace the Armory in downtown Alexandria. “We’re still a few years away — and more than a few decision points have to be crossed — but we continue to grind,” said City Planner Mike Weber.

Although the county assessor’s office has set land values for property tax purposes, the city would not likely be able to proceed with purchase offers based on those numbers, according to Weber. Instead, the city wants to get quotes from qualified commercial real estate appraisers.

The most recent appraisal the city received was in 2019 for a vacant parcel at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The appraisal covered 104 acres and the cost was $5,000. Although the proposed appraisal for a National Guard site will only be for about 33 acres of land, the cost is likely to be similar, Weber said.


Audit shows city is in good financial shape

The city of Alexandria ended 2021 with $5.8 million, according to an audit report presented to the Alexandria City Council Monday night, June 27.

As in past years, property taxes were the biggest revenue, bringing in $5 million. Other revenue sources were:

  • Intergovernmental, including Local Government Aid, just over $2 million.
  • Other revenues of just over $1 million.
  • Payment, in lieu of taxes, from Alexandria Utilities, $1 million.
  • Charges for services, $1 million.

On the expense side, public safety, which includes the police department budget was at the top with $4.2 million, followed by general government at $2.5 million, public works at $1.5 million, culture and recreation at $1.5 million and other revenue at about $200,000.
Mayor Bobbie Osterberg asked Tom Olinger with Abdo, the company that did the audit, if it would be fair to say the city is financially solid. Olinger said yes and noted the city's overall cash balance has grown slightly and its tax rate has remained relatively flat.

The audit found one instance of non-compliance in the city’s contracting and bidding process — the city wasn’t able to provide evidence that appropriate documentation was received for a contract.

Abdo recommended the city to review the state statute and obtain such documentation on future contracts. The city agreed to so in 2022 for all contracts over $50,000.

Olinger said that Abdo had an unmodified, "clean opinion" of the audit. The council agreed to accept the audit on a 4-0 vote.

Other highlights:

  • The two city-owned liquor stores – Plaza Liquor and Downtown Liquor – ended 2021 with cash balances totaling just over $1.1 million. Downtown Liquor transferred $40,000 of its balances to the city's general fund and Plaza Liquor transferred $210,000.
  • The city has a policy to have a fund balance between 35% and 50% of its total budget. It surpassed that in 2021 with a fund balance of 55.2%, which was 3.2% more than 2020.
  • Debt service topped $2.5 million in 2022 but is projected to drop to just over $1 million by 2031.

TIF would help build new dental office

A public hearing is set for Aug. 11 to consider a tax increment financing request from Geyen Investments, LLC, which operates Woodland Dentistry on Hawthorne Street.


Tyler Geyen wants to remove a residential building at 213 Jefferson Street and construct a 9,306-square-foot dental office.

The new building would also have additional leasing space for other professional services.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.7 million and would create at least six new full-time permanent jobs within two years.

In the TIF application, Geyen said the project will develop an under-developed part of Alexandria in an area that’s important to the community’s progress.

“The space currently has a vacant lot with a history of arson and substandard residential and commercial space,” the application said, adding that TIF is needed to develop the land to its fullest potential.

Bobcat business coming back

A new Bobcat dealership plans to open in Alexandria.

There used to be one in the city and Adam Becker, branch manager for Swanston Equipment, wants to bring it back.

The council agreed to issue Swanston Equipment a conditional use permit to allow open and outdoor storage and display of skid-steers and attachments. The property is located at 3818 Nevada Street.


The display area covers about 6,600 square feet and has approval for 33 units, which will vary in size from smaller zero-turn lawn mowers to skid loaders and attachments.

In other planning and zoning action, Geneva Capital at 1311 Broadway will soon get more parking space.

The council agreed to issue a conditional use permit that will provide 18 off-site parking stalls across the street at 1220 Hawthorne Street.

This year, Geneva Capital has 12 interns and parking can be an issue, according to the company.

A house will be removed at the site. A garage will remain.

The plan requires a drainage plan. Other conditions: no outdoor sales or storage, the east property line must be screened, parking lot dimensions must be followed, and any exterior lighting must be hooded and directed away from residential uses and public streets.

City buys wetland credits for sidewalk project

A sidewalk extension project from 34th Avenue to 44th Avenue took another step forward Monday night.

The council has received all the wetland permits for the extension and agreed to purchase wetland bank credits from two separate banks.


Wetland credits are purchased from existing wetlands, said City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven. The specific credits to be purchased for the project are based on the type of wetland and the proximity of the wetlands to the project’s location.

The first agreement will purchase 0.74 acres of wetland credit at $23,000 per acre for a cost of $17,020 from EIP Credit Company, plus application fees totaling $730 for the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

A second wetland agreement purchase is expected to cost about $13,945. Schoonhoven said he will come back to the council at a later date to take action on that purchase.

The total cost of the extension is estimated at just under $500,000. A local partnership program grant of $410,000 will cover the bulk of the cost and the rest, $89,012, will be paid through municipal state aid funds. The wetland purchases will be covered under the local partnership program.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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