Photo by Chad Koenen
The New York Mills City Council is hoping to purchase a tax forfeited lot at 105 South Main from Otter Tail County. The goal will be to fix up the lot and remove a potential health hazard from the property. 

By Chad Koenen


he New York Mills City Council will continue its pursuit of purchasing a tax forfeited property in town, even though the county board rejected its initial offer.  ¶  During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, in the new city council chambers in the Government Services Building, the NY Mills City Council heard from city clerk Julie Roberts that the county rejected the city’s proposal to purchase the property at 105 South Main in NY Mills. The city offered $300 for the lot with the goal of simply cleaning up the property.

“The bigger thing was to get rid of the eye sore,” she said. “We can’t have this kind of a hazard sitting in our town like this.”

Roberts continued that the longer the property goes without being cleaned up the more if the city will have to continue to mow the property in the summer and get more dilapidated. After the city offered $300 to purchase the property earlier this year, the county board countered with a proposal of $2,000. 

“We would pay $2,000 and it would be our job to clean it up,” said Roberts.

The council said the clean up would not come cheap and would be needed to clean up a potential public health issue. If the city were to use the property for something like a road, a park, trails, transit facility, public beach, parking lot, civic recreational and conference facility, or public service facility like a fire hall the county said it could purchase the property for a $250 application fee. Due to the property’s proximity none of these uses appear to be a possibility. 

In the past, the city purchased the adjacent lot to 105 South Main for $300, plus filing fees and cleaned up that property. The city was hoping for a similar arrangement this time around. 

“The lot is twice the size, but we have a much bigger mess to clean up than the brown one (next door),” said Roberts. “There is going to be more expense to it.”

The council instructed Roberts to get an estimate on what the clean up cost would be for the property and attempt to negotiate a fair price to purchase the tax forfeited property from the county. It was reported the city has no immediate plans for the property, other than trying to clean it up.

Lift station

The NY Mills City Council also approved a payment to Felts Plumbing for work being completed on the main lift station. The council heard an update about the ongoing project from Michael Weber, of Apex Engineering, who said the pump station arrived last week.

“The pump station is here, it was delivered last week, so that is a big step in the right direction,” he said.

The contractor expected to wrap up work on the plumbing and pipe components mid week last week. Once the electrical work was completed, the testing can take place. Once the testing is completed the new lift station will be started up and operational. 

“I don’t have an exact time for a start up, but I am hoping in the next couple of weeks they should be ready for that,” he said.

In other news

• Heard the month of July was a good month for Mills Liquors as the net revenue for the city-owned liquor store is up 3.55 percent from last year. LundMania was a big success for the liquor store and July proved to be a really good month financially.

• Approved the hiring of Tyler Swartz as the new full-time police officer. The council also approved a request to allow Schwartz to take a squad car home, which is a 10 minute drive from NY Mills.

• Heard that the utilities department is monitoring the city’s well water level and daily gallons pumped. Kyle Mattson said most people are doing a good job of conserving water and if drought conditions continue, or if the aquifer starts to get to an emergency level, he will reach out to the irrigation users to voluntarily decrease their water usage. 

• Heard the administrative department report from Roberts. She stated she spent some time measuring the square footage and lease rates for the leasable space that is empty in the Government Services building at 118 N. Main Avenue. 

• Heard concerns over communication of the work going on at the South Point property from Dennis Tigges. He farms the property and said flags were installed in the beans and asked that more communication take place with what is happening at the property. The land is owned by the city and has been pegged by the city as being potentially developed for residential properties in the future as part of the South Point Project.

• Approved waiving assessments on a piece of tax forfeited land located adjacent to 102 Hayes Ave. The request came from Tyrone and Darcy Mattson.  The property in question has $7,083.20 in assessments that were incurred, or would be due, through 2029. The assessments were waived when the property went into foreclosure and could be waived by the city.