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Supervisors mull BASF property purchase

July 9, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday discussed the advantages - and limitations - of buying the former BASF property northeast of Estherville.

The board has been looking at buying the property to relocate the county shop. However, renovation costs to make the building and properly suitable could raise the final price considerably, as much as another $750,000, according to county engineer Roger Patocka.

Board chair Alan Madden started the discussion, saying that sometime in the future the county would have to deal with facility needs. He said the county shop in Estherville had been remodeled and refurbished as much as it was probably going to be.

He then asked the board to consider if the BASF facility met the county's needs, citing the advantage of having the shop off main roads. "That's a plus for me," he said.

Noting that Patocka had said he had adequate office space in the courthouse, Madden said other secondary employees didn't.

He also acknowledged that the BASF building might not be the perfect fit - at least as it is now.

"We know that building was not built and designed for our needs," Madden said, adding that the primary issue was whether the county was in a position to make a major move. He said the cost of tearing down the existing county shop and building new was hard to justify.

"A new building isn't in the cards - as long as I'm sitting at this table," Madden said. He said the bottom line was that the county needed to move on to what its minimum requirements were and how it could make the building work.

Supervisor Ron Smith said if there is an opportunity to move forward in buying the property that the county would have to upgrade the building in phases.

Supervisor Tim Schumacher agreed, saying facilities at the existing county shop didn't come in place all at once.

Patocka said there has been a lot of work over the years to get the shop where it's at. And he said the county needed to look at the total cost of what its future goal is. And, while the board has the initial cost of the property in hand, he said there would be substantial costs to make it workable. And having things split up between the two sites during transition would make it difficult, Patocka added.

Supervisor Jon Martyr said the county didn't have the $1.8 million or more to build on site now, and that if secondary roads didn't think the building was worth it, they would have to wait another 15-20 years for a new facility.

Supervisor Bev Juhl said the board was looking at the property as an opportunity to have a better one, adding that it would take time to move everything from the existing shop to the new site.

Dan Harvey, former BASF Estherville site manager, said his goal was to bring a business back to the facility. He said BASF had six full-time employees earning above-average wages plus 55 youth working in the summer. Plus he said there was an offer on the table for the property now.

"There are people that are somewhat interested, but it takes time to make it happen," Harvey said. And he said it could cost twice as much as the asking price to widen doors and remove walls.

Patocka listed a number of improvements that would be necessary if the property were to work, including a $282,000 asphalt surfacing, making a total cost of improvements of $500,000 to $750,000.

Smith said he would like to know what the cost of a new building would be for comparison, and the cost of putting offices in the building.

The board will take up the matter again at a later meeting.

In other business, the board approved appropriations for the first six months of 2014. Also approved were claims and drainage bills.

The board also approved a fireworks permit for Jeff Merrill for July 29.



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