The last few weeks there’s been a lot of discussion about the downtown. Most everyone is happy to see the Main Street construction project nearing completion. Keep in mind that this project is mostly (90 percent) a MnDOT project, funded by the state, with most of the decisions made by them as well.

The discussion has also focused on the buildings on Main Street. There’s a rumor circulating that every building upgrade requires sprinkling—raising the renovation cost significantly. Fortunately, that is not always the case. I’m not going to try to make that distinction here, but be sure to check with the Building Inspector before making any assumptions.

The City Council is in the midst of budgeting for 2019 and an additional $76,000 was added to the proposed budget for downtown development. That money would be used for low interest loans to help with renovation by applying through the EDA. Even with this proposed increase, Sleepy Eye’s taxes would still remain lower than all our neighboring communities.

It’s hard to see a plan going forward to do any renovation of Main Street that isn’t going to require the City to support that effort financially. Renovation today is simply too costly. If the potential to earn above average returns were there, then maybe it could be done without City support. But, I think we can all recognize that most Main Street returns are not going to reach those higher levels.

Attendance at the Downtown Visioning meeting on Tuesday, July 31, saw approximately 50 people come together to share ideas about the downtown. There were lots of good ideas that ranged from attracting new restaurants to improving traffic problems.

In other action, the City Council at a special meeting, approved renovation of the City Building with additional garage space. This renovation will facilitate moving the police station into the vacated portion of the City building that originally housed the liquor store. It’s a good project that doesn’t have any fluff, flamboyancy or unnecessary addition. Unfortunately, building costs have escalated significantly. This project will cost $690,000. Likely some of the project will be paid with City investments and a portion will be financed over a longer period of time.

Would there be folks out there willing to take EMT training and assist our ambulance service? Our staff could use some help and you could be just the person they’re looking for. Give Shari Hittesdorf a call to learn more.

I had the good fortune to spend a week in Alaska in early July with my wife Pattie, and brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Lisa. As we were standing in line waiting for our boarding pass in Anchorage, a gentleman waiting behind us noticed my name tag and address on my suitcase. He said, “Sleepy Eye! I know Sleepy Eye! My firm and I audited the City of Sleepy Eye’s books for years.” His name was Jerry Hulstein and he was a member of the auditing firm Olson, Clough, and LeBlanc from the Twin Cities. Without my prompting he spoke of Ed Treml, the former City Clerk, and Mark Kober, the present City Manager, very positively. He had a most high regard for our City, the City’s financial situation, and how these men performed their jobs. It’s nice when our reputation precedes us.