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News from the week of April 16, 2003


Tracy qualifies for Small Cities Grant

Three years of planning and work came to fruition for Tracy civic leaders this week.

The Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development announced Friday that Tracy has been selected for a $934,750 Small Cities Grant. The grant is earmarked for the rehabilitation of up to 15 homes occupied by low and moderate-income families, 25 affordable rental units, and 15 commercial buildings.

"This is great news for our city," said Mayor Steve Ferrazzano, who was notified of the grant award through a letter he received Saturday. "Needless to say, I'm very excited."

Tracy leaders have been laying the groundwork for the Small Cities grant since 2000, when Eagan planner Fred Sabongi was hired by the council to help draft a "revitalization" plan. The Sabongi plan was included in a grant application compiled by Rick Goodeman of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership. The Small Cities grant application was submitted last fall.

Tracy was one of 90 Minnesota cities to submit a Small Cities grant application, but one of only 35 to receive funding.

State officials ranked Tracy's application as the No. 1 comprehensive Small Cities Grant application. Overall, Tracy's ranked second among the 90 Small Cities applications.

"They liked the Tracy project, and felt that the money would be a good investment," Goodeman said. The Tracy application not only demonstrated a need, he said, but also showed broad-based community support and participation in the planning process. The Sabongi revitalization plan, which included several community meetings, definitely helped Tracy's grant application, Goodeman said.

Garvin still looking for sewer connection money

Small Cities request fails

The City of Garvin will push forward with a sanitary sewer collection and treatment system, despite a failed bid to secure a $159,000 Small Cities Development Grant.

"We need to look for some other funding source," said Mayor Jim Julien Monday. "We can't put this off (sewer project) any longer."

Julien expressed disappointment that Garvin wasn't one of the 35 cities selected by the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development for a Small Cities grant. The money would have been used to pay for the sewer hook ups to private homes and businesses in Garvin.

Garvin previously secured about $1.4 million in grants and low-interest loans from the federal Rural Development Agency to build the sewer system.

Outdoors show packs 'em in

Attendance pegged at nearly 5,000

The first-ever Tracy Area Sportsmen's Show turned out to be a whopper.

Organizers reeled in a trophy-sized catch Saturday, landing big crowds, idyllic weather, and satisfied vendors.

"It's exceeded our expectations," said co-chairman Bill Chukuske, Saturday. "It's been wonderful." Ron Koopman, the other co-chair, said he'd heard nothing but positive comments. "We've had a great day."

Since admission was free, an exact attendance total was not compiled. But nearly 4,300 people did register for door prizes. Robert Gervais, Tracy Community Development, said that if another 10% is added for people who didn't register, attendance could easily have totaled about 4,800 people for the nine-hour show.

Planners had hoped to attract 4,000 people. "Anything over 4,000 was tremendous," Gervais said. Despite not charging admission, as well as offering many free attractions, the sportsman's show made money.

Landmark eyed for Tracy visitor center

The "Stone Station" in Tracy may soon have a fresh look and a new purpose.

The landmark, located at the corner of Craig Ave. and Center Street, was once a gas station along Hwy. 14. The Tracy Revitalization Committee is spearheading a project to have the building improved and used as a summer visitor's center.

The idea got a boost Monday night, when Tracy City Council members agreed to have the City of Tracy pay utilities at the new center. The utility costs are estimated at $1,200.

The revitalization committee is raising money to upgrade the building with plumbing, heat, cooling, and electricity. The exterior would be enhanced with new paint trim, a sign, and flowers.

A lease agreement to use the property has been worked out with property owner Tony Peterson.

Council members noted that while city money is tight, the Stone Station has high visibility in the community and would dovetail with other city beautification efforts. The city recently applied for a Hwy. 14 beautification grant. Last year, the revitalization committee completed a flower bed and park bench beautification project across the street from the Stone Station.

City staff, council will discuss spending cuts

Tracy City Council members are scheduled to meet with city department heads Monday, April 21, to discuss the enactment of immediate spending reductions and fee increases.

The possible economy moves are in response to a budget cuts proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. If the governor's budget is approved, the City of Tracy would lose $144,000 in state aid this year, and another $274,000 next year. The governor's budget balances a projected $4.2 billion shortfall in the state's budget over the next two years. The governor and state legislators are required to enact a balanced budget by June 30 of this year.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman has instructed city department heads to prepare plans to cut spending by 10% this year. The Monday night discussion with the council will be based, in part, on the department head recommendations.

Swift Lake campground will be re-drawn with bigger sites

Larger campsites are on the hosizon for Swift lake Park. Tracy City Council members have approved a polan suggest by Public Works Director Rick Robinson to reconfigure the Swift Lake camping are. Camping fees will be raised to pay for the improvements.

Robinson's plan nearly doubles the size of the Swift Lake campsites to 40-70 feet. the present sites are too close together and not large enough to accommodate many modern RVs, Robinson said.

Monday night, the council appropriated $4,000 to bring electrical service to seven sites. City workers will provide labor for establishing new gravel pads and grill pits. Robinson said work would proceed when city workers aren't needed for projects with a higher priority.

Fees will be raised from $5 to $8 for a non-electric hook-up service, and from $8 to $15 for an electric hook-up. An improved self-collection system, requiring campers to put their registration on a post at the campsite, was also approved.