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Brainerd City Council: Due diligence extended in dam purchase

The due diligence period in regard to the potential purchase of the Wausau dam has been extended so officials can gain legislative approval for acquiring the dam.

The Brainerd City Council approved the move at its meeting Tuesday.

The official 90-day due diligence period started in November with the signing of the purchase agreement and it was set to expire at the end of the month.

City leaders recently found out that in order to buy the dam they need legislative approval. It was found that state law says the city can’t buy the dam until it gets approval from the Legislature or the legislative session ends without the Legislature prohibiting it, said council member Gary Scheeler, who also is a member of the Wausau Task Force.

Scheeler continued that the requirement is in place because transferring the dam to a public entity means additional liability, as well as state grants will become available for future maintenance.

During the due diligence period, there have been several studies and inspections into the facilities at the dam to make sure it would be a good investment for the city.

The city of Brainerd placed a bid on Wausau Paper’s hydroelectric dam and the adjoining 37 acres of land on the west side of the river in August after the paper company close its doors earlier in the year.

The purchase price will be $4.115 million. The purchase price will be offset by the cost to connect the dam’s powerhouse to city water, sewer and natural gas lines, all of which Wausau officials agreed to pay for by lowering the purchase price.

The dam is expected to generate just under 10 percent of Brainerd’s power on a normal day. It gives the same output as a typical wind turbine.

If the city buys the dam, Brainerd residents won’t notice a big dip on their electric bill, officials previously have said. Instead, it could help keep future rates level or smaller.

Another benefit is that it’s cheaper for the city to generate its own power. Currently, Brainerd buys all of its energy from Minnesota Power.

In other council news:

Requested the Miracle League Field in Bane Park be named after the late city council president Bonnie Cumberland. The name request “Bonnie Cumberland Memorial Field” goes to the Park Board Feb. 25 for approval.

Adopted a resolution in support of the legislative bonding request to fund a sewer and water extension to the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

Approved a service agreement on behalf of the Brainerd Public Library to construct a Smart Play Spot environment, which uses 3D structures that supports projects and learning goals.

Approved selling the old street sweeper for $8,000 to Tri-City Paving.

Will hold a public hearing about the idea of removing parking on the north side of Willow Street during the improvement project, and to restripe the road to accommodate bicycle lanes. The idea to add a bike lane is in effort for a more bikeable community. The public hearing will be during an upcoming committee meeting.

Approved two resolutions for two road projects being funded by Crow Wing County: County Road 117 and Highway 48.

Approved the following summer intern positions: Two for the Street and Sewer Department; one for IT; one for Inspections Department; one engineering aid. The total estimated cost for all positions is about $25,000.

Voting against the motion was council members Mary Koep and Kelly Bevans. Koep said there should be four interns instead of five.

Approved a donation to the Crow Wing County Historical Society in the amount of $300, the same amount given last year. Generally, the city donated between $200-$500 each year.

Approved two police officer conditional job offers and the hiring of a community service officer. The police officer jobs will be offered to Tuitt Buckhouse and Bradley Gadbois.

Approved submitting a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program application to evaluate downtown Brainerd’s potential for National Register listing.

Approved a permit for the St. Patrick’s Day parade at 1 p.m. on March 15.

Adjourned to the Fire Service District meeting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at