The need for a parking lot at the event center has been in discussion for quite some time - this is a start.

The Sleepy Eye City Council held a special meeting on July 17 to consider bids on the Audio/Visual system for the event center, and also approved a purchase agreement for a parking lot.

The council approved the low bid of $118,195 for the A/V system from iSpace Environments. Event center architect, Eric Oleson, said the system will include five projectors and screens. (A/V is available in different configurations as the event center space can be divided into three rooms.) The bid included materials and labor.

The council then considered a property purchase agreement with Dave Haala to address needed parking space near the event center. Haala owns an appropriate lot across the street from the event center that the council has discussed as a possible parking lot. Haala proposed purchasing 50 acres in the southern most end of the Snow Farm at $8,000 per acre ($400,000) and in exchange selling the city the lot for $100,000. A motion to approve the agreement passed on a 4-1 vote, with Councilor Doug Pelzel voting no. After a bit more discussion, the motion was amended to include Haala’s request for 15 loads of the black dirt removed from the lot and $600 for crop damage.

Several surrounding commercial property owners were at the meeting, including Russ McCabe, Dennis Fromm, Richard Nesvold and Dean Ibberson. While expressing support for the event center, they also told the council that they did not want people parking in their business lots while attending events. The council discussed signage to prohibit event parking in those areas.

The city also has an option on property across the street to the north, owned by Tim Schieffert, that is under consideration for another parking lot. Councilor Nate Stevermer suggested observing how the parking situation works at the first few events before making a decision to purchase that property. City Attorney Alissa Fischer said the option expires at the end of September.