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City council exploring potential purchase of mobile stage

The Worthington City Council authorized the city staff to seek quotes for the potential purchase of a mobile stage that would be used for the community’s various festivals throughout the year.

Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson explained that mobile stage units are utilized by various groups for a number of community events in Worthington such as the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival, Beach Bash, International Festival and Turkey Day. The sponsoring group pays rental fees of upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per event for a stage, Robinson added.

The city of Worthington currently provides financial support for Turkey Day ($3,500), International Festival ($1,000) and the Regatta ($2,000). The new mobile hydraulic stage unit would be available for local groups sponsoring civic events as an in-kind contribution in place of financial support. In addition, the mobile stage could be made available to non-Worthington organizations on a rental basis.

The planned stage is built on a trailer unit for easy hauling from storage to set up. The stage deck recommended is approximately 34 feet in length and 24 feet wide, and a roof covers the stage platform. The estimated cost for a stage is $220,000, with funding to come from the city's 2022 American Rescue Plan Act allocation that is expected to be received in the coming weeks. Mayor Mike Kuhle praised the action and said it reflected good long-term planning.

Also on Monday, council members – following brief public hearings on each of the sites for six planned single-family homes to be built as part of the JBS Hometown Strong Housing Development project – approved Nobles Home Initiative tax abatements for each property. A JBS gift of $1,784,000 helped create a Revolving Loan Housing Fund to develop and provide the homes, which will be located in southeast Worthington.

The second reading of a proposed rental ordinance that represents a text amendment to a section of city code was also read and approved. The proposed amendment establishes minimum standards for rental units, inspections of rental units and enforcement mechanisms.

Following the expected approval of the third reading, the city will begin the process of hiring a rental property inspector to enforce the ordinance.

In an additional matter Monday, the city council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance that completely removes the city’s retail shopping overlay district from city code.

The city had tabled the final reading of the ordinance at a previous meeting after concerns from some business owners were raised. The council further discussed the matter at a special meeting with the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee last month.

At Monday’s meeting, Worthington City Planner Matt Selof detailed some of the varying downtown requirements from several southwest Minnesota communities with similar sizes to Worthington, as well as Spencer, Iowa. Robinson added that it has been a city goal to “root out ordinances that are overbureaucratic and unnecessary” and commended Selof on his work and research regarding the matter.

The council vote on approving the ordinance was unanimous and was made with a condition on the motion stating that a pair of small changes will be made to the ordinance as soon as possible to reflect remaining concerns.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved a $7,500 donation received by the Worthington Police Department from the American Kennel Club (AKC) Reunite Adopt a K9 Cop matching fund program. Upon approval, the funds will be included in a future purchase of a dog for the WPD canine program.

  • Approved the advertisement of bids for this year’s state aid-funded bituminous pavement improvements. Bids will be received at 2 p.m. on July 13 in the Council Chambers. The bid results will be reviewed and a recommendation for award made during the July 25 council meeting.

  • Approved an amendment to the conditional use permit for Igelesia Pentecostal Unida Hispana. The proposed amendment would allow for new property to be included with the permit for the church. This new property will allow the applicant to expand their building and meet parking requirements.

  • Kuhle and council members also recognized the efforts involved with the visit of the Crailsheim, Germany contingent over the past several days as well as the past weekend’s Regatta. Crailsheim Oberburgermeister (or mayor) Dr. Cristoph Grimmer attended Monday’s meeting and was presented with a framed collage of photos.

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