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Council refuses to hear MNGL lease plan

Red Wing City Council voted Monday not to consider a proposal from Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation for a three-year lease of Mississippi National Golf Links. At the same meeting, the council approved an agreement to partner with an outside consulting firm to plan for the course's future.

Confusion set in during the opening minutes of the meeting as Council member Ralph Rauterkus voiced concerns that considering RWMGC's new proposal would go against council rules.

Rauterkus pointed out that council rules of order state that a motion to reconsider a council action must be brought up at the same meeting or the next following meeting. Because the council voted to close MNGL for the 2013 season at the Feb. 25 meeting, reconsideration would had to have been done no later than the March 11 meeting, Rauterkus said.

Council member Dean Hove disagreed with Rauterkus, saying that the consideration of the new RWMGC proposal was not reconsideration but rather a new discussion.

Council President Lisa Bayley called on city attorney Jay Squires for input.

The council voted to close MNGL at the Feb. 25 meeting, and not to reject any particular proposal, Squires said. Because Monday's proposal, if approved, would open the course for 2013, it constituted reconsideration of the Feb. 25 decision and could not be considered, he told the council.

Squires said the council could suspend rules of order, but doing so would require a two-thirds vote.

"I do think there are times where rules of order need to be suspended," Bayley said. "And I think this is one of those situations."

"There is enough community interest and enough new information ... that would justify looking at this again," she said.

Before a vote to suspend rules of order could be made, the council had to vote whether or not to approve the agenda minus the MNGL proposal. The amended agenda was approved by a 4-to-3 vote.

Council members Bayley, Hove and Jason Sebion voted against removing consideration of the MNGL proposal from the agenda. Members Rauterkus, Marilyn Meinke, Peggy Rehder and Michael Schultz voted in favor of removing it.

After the vote about a dozen audience members began to file out of the crowded council chambers, drowning out Mayor Dennis Egan as he spoke on the next order of business.

Later in the meeting the council voted 5-2 to approve a $25,000 agreement with consulting group Schoenbauer Consulting to develop a report recommending future action for MNGL.

During discussion of the proposal, Council members Hove and Sebion asked why a consulting firm would be necessary.

"I don't understand why we can't do this ourselves," Hove said. "I guess I'm missing the reason why we have to spend this kind of money to let citizens tell us what they want."

"If it stays a golf course, it stays a golf course. If it's going to be a park, we can make it a park," Sebion said. "I don't think we need to spend the money to get those answers when we can get them right here ... from our own citizens."

Bayley said the amount of time and work put into the MNGL project warrants a speedy and thoughtful conclusion. "I think this makes a lot of sense," she told the council.

Rehder said that the $25,000 consulting fee may seem high, but she suggested that partnering with a consulting firm would free up city resources to focus on other projects.

"There are other things important to the city that are being set aside and are not necessarily getting done," she said.

The approved agreement states Schoenbauer Consulting will deliver a final report with a recommendation for MNGL by July 13.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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