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Rodeo queries city on well

St. Paul news — Association brings up potential for trade in lease agreement for municipal use of well

As the city of St. Paul continues in the preliminary stages of a project of drilling a new well to supply its water customers, the City Council received a letter in August on behalf of the St. Paul Rodeo Association, which expressed a desire to negotiate a longer lease for the rodeo grounds in order to begin renovations to the rodeo stadium.

At the same time, the rodeo association asked whether the city is interested in utilizing a well drilled by the association earlier this year.

The well was used during the rodeo this summer to alleviate stress put on the city water system by the major increase in consumption the rodeo brings about each July.

“The well yields about 500 gallons per minute, an amount that is believed to exceed the total capacity of all the city of St. Paul wells and does so without a sand pumping issue,” according to well driller Steve Schneider in a June release by the rodeo association.

The release also stated the well water is potable, suggesting it could be used for municipal needs as well.

In the August letter, the association asked whether the city would be “interested in negotiating a trade for the well in exchange for the longer term lease.”

At the Sept. 10 council meeting councilors voted to send a response to the rodeo association, but the exact wording of that response is under debate.

Mayor Kim Wallis and Councilor Rosemary Koch both drafted letters in response to the association, offering differing levels of support for the association collaboration.

Koch’s letter focused on the city’s current plan to drill its own well, stating that “the city is committed to our new well project,” and did not indicate the same willingness to look into the proposal as Wallis had.

In response Wallis edited his letter and came up with a compromise, which he will planned to present to the council.

This is not the first time the well issue has arisen — when the city entered a memorandum of understanding with the rodeo association in May regarding studying the rodeo well for potential city usage, Koch brought up what she felt was the potential for the city to owe a favor to the rodeo association based on using the rodeo well.

At that meeting Wallis expressed that the MOU was simply a preliminary agreement to study the project and that no final decisions were being made — similar to the letter now up for debate.

“It’s just a letter acknowledging receipt of the rodeo’s letter and saying the council has an interest in talking,” Wallis said Monday.

A meeting to discuss the city’s response has been postponed indefinitely.

Attorney search continues

Since City Attorney John Rankin tendered his resignation last month the city has begun its search for new legal counsel.

The city put out a request for proposal (RFP) and originally planned to close the search this Friday and to fill the position by Oct. 15. At the last meeting, though, councilors decided to extend the minimum experience for applicants to 10 years. With the new requirement the close date for application was extended to Oct. 10.