Site change means updated subsidy agreement for Action

MARSHALL – The city of Marshall and a local business are looking for a plan B, after the Federal Aviation Administration weighed in on a proposal for Action Manufacturing to expand on land near the Marshall airport. On Tuesday night, Marshall City Council members called for a public hearing to discuss a new business subsidy agreement for Action Manufacturing, Inc.

The new agreement would have similar terms to one approved in November but would involve a different piece of land in the Marshall industrial park, said Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig.

Last fall, the city had approved a business subsidy agreement for Action Manufacturing to build an expanded manufacturing facility on land at Marshall Airpark East, on Madrid Circle. Action Manufacturing owner Tim Swenson said the new facility would allow the business to increase production of its all-terrain motorized wheelchairs to keep up with demand. The agreement called for a 99-year lease on five acres of land, waived $325,000 in special assessments on the property for development of utilities and waived a Water Area Charge of about $18,000.

However, Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said Swenson and city staff received some bad news from the FAA and MnDOT Aeronautics this month. The FAA did not approve the planned Action Manufacturing site, saying non-aviation related businesses were not permitted adjacent to the airport runway apron and taxiways. Martig said Action Manufacturing could possibly be approved for a different piece of land at Airpark East, but it would take too long for construction to be able to start this spring.

“We learned a lot, but we were disappointed,” Olson said of the meeting with the FAA.

Martig said Swenson was still interested in developing a site in Marshall, so construction could start this spring. Action Manufacturing is looking at two possible sites in the industrial park. Martig said a new site will require a new subsidy agreement for the business. The new agreement would involve a property transfer instead of a ground lease but otherwise keep most of the terms of the original agreement, he said.

Council members voted to call for a public hearing on the new business subsidy agreement. The hearing will be held Feb. 25.

In other business Tuesday, council members approved a change to the polling location for citizens in Marshall’s Ward 1. City Clerk Tom Meulebroeck explained that the current polling place at Park Side Elementary School wasn’t separated enough from areas of the school where children were present. With large numbers of adults coming and going on Election Day, it posed a safety risk for students.

“If something should happen,” Meulebroeck said, “we don’t want young kids to be exposed to it.”

Meulebroeck recommended moving the Ward 1 polling place to the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University. He said the city will be working with local media in the future to notify voters of the change.

Council members also heard a presentation on a redevelopment proposal for “Block 11,” the block of Marshall’s downtown that includes the Varsity Pub property. The proposal included the expansion of the Varsity Pub’s outdoor patio, sidewalk improvements and development of parking areas.

Martig said under the proposal, the city and the Varsity Pub would split the cost for new sidewalks, and the Pub would pay the city back for parking areas built by the city and then transferred to the business. The redevelopments could be the first phase in a more extensive downtown project including improvements to the alley on Block 11 and development in the place of currently vacant properties on the block.

Martig said the redevelopment proposal for the Varsity Pub patio and parking would need action from the council and the Marshall Housing and Redevelopment Authority before it could move forward. The matter will come back before the council on Feb. 25.