The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 5, 2012

Council puts off decision after public hearing on Marigold site development

By Robb Murray
The Free Press

NORTH MANKATO — After 90 minutes of public input and disagreement among councilors, the North Mankato City Council voted Monday to wait on voting to approve tax-increment financing for the Marigold site project.

Public comment was split on the issue, with handfuls of residents on both sides of the issue urging the council to either approve or deny the project.

But in the end, council members Bob Freyberg and Bill Schindle convinced the rest of the council to reevaluate the terms of the deal the city is striking with developer Vanyo Moody.

Freyberg and Schindle said they're uncomfortable with the lack of documentation from Moody's lender as to their support of the project. They also were uncomfortable with the length of the city's financial involvement with the project.

North Mankato resident Barb Church said the city shouldn't be forcing a monstrous structure onto a small piece of land, comparing it to putting a size 25 shoe on Tinkerbell.

"I don’t see how you can, in good conscience, go forward with this project," she said.

John Hurd agreed. He added that the building is ugly, and that it's orientation away from the rest of downtown is puzzling.

"Who is the watchdog on this," he asked the council in general, before directing his comments at Schindle specifically. "Bill, you’re a contractor, you should be our watchdog."

Others spoke in favor of the project, including Eric Harriman of the City Center Partnership. He said the trend in America is for people to move back into urban living after decades of fleeing them. This project gives people a chance to stay downtown.

"Downtowns are for people, and people need places to live," Harriman said.