House could be located in Arvilla

By Chad Koenen


A proposed Habitat for Humanity home in the City of Ottertail has been put on hold, but that doesn’t mean either the city council or organizers within the Habitat for Humanity organization are giving up hope about bringing a new habitat home to town.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, the Ottertail City Council heard a request from an area developer to hold a lot in the Arvilla development that would have been used for a Habitat for Humanity home for up to 2-3 years as they look for a family to bring to Ottertail. The developer would put $2,000 down to hold the lot, and in the event a family cannot be found to bring to Ottertail, the developer would forfeit the money to the city. 

Just last month the city council heard that a proposed Habitat for Humanity home in the Arvilla development was put on hold as the family in need wanted to find a home closer to the Barnesville area. 

Ottertail Mayor Ron Grobeck said he was in favor of bringing a Habitat for Humanity house to the community, but he had a concern about keeping a lot tied up in the city for 2-3 years without any guarantee that it would even be developed in the future. He favored including a right of first refusal that would allow the city to sell the lot to another developer, but give the Habitat for Humanity organization the right to match the offer, or meet certain criteria to keep the lot. 

Other city council members also questioned whether it should keep the lot tied up for 2-3 years without the guarantee of a future home being constructed on the lot, but also said they wanted to do what they could to bring a Habitat for Humanity home to the community.

The city council agreed to have the city’s attorney take a look at a proposal to allow for the purchase of the lot by the Habitat for Humanity group, while also figure out a way to address the city’s concerns.

In other news

• Heard the monthly fire report from fire chief Joe Ahlfs, which included one medical calls, two mutual aids, one grass fire and a propane fire after a tank broke open near the railroad tracks. 

• Heard an update on the search for a new deputy clerk. City clerk/treasurer Amanda Thorson said three people applied for the position and the plan is to conduct interviews this week. The city council scheduled a special meeting to potentially act on a recommendation to hire a person based on a recommendation from the personnel committee. 

• Heard MnDOT is planing to update a historic marker in the city limits with a new sidewalk that would be ADA compliant. 

• Approved a resolution to participate in local partnership funds with MnDOT for Tyler Wohlers Trail. Apex Engineer Bob Schliemann said the city may even be able to go out for bids in the near future on the long-awaited trail. 

• Heard that Full Arena Promotions will not be able to host a demo derby later this year and was hoping to reschedule the demo derby to May 9-11, 2025. 

• Approved increasing the bounty for gophers to $5 apiece. The city had previously paid $2 per gopher, but there have been an issue at places like the ball park, ball field and demo derby pit area.

• Approved increasing the depreciation charge given to the townships by the Ottertail Fire Department to two percent from one percent to help cover additional costs for equipment.

• Heard of an idea called Otters in Action from Ottertail Mayor Ron Grobeck that would place otter statues all over the community to signify the different aspects of town. For example, an otter statue could be wearing a fire hat near the fire hall, or have a fishing pole to represent the rod and gun club. The hope would be to create a tourist destination where people can seek out each of the unique statues in the community. Grobeck has been discussing the plan with a Bemidji area artist and will get a quote for the statues to bring back to the council.