Watershed makes offer on front 9Published 10:24am Wednesday, June 12, 2013
District leaders hoping to set up a staging area for dredging Fountain Lake
Shell Rock River Watershed District officials are negotiating with American Bank of St. Paul for the purchase of about 50 acres of the former Albert Lea Golf Club.
The district’s board of managers on Tuesday unanimously approved making an offer of $290,000 for the property — known to most Albert Leans as “the front nine.” The offer averages out to about $5,800 an acre.
Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke said district staff are interested in the property because of the goal to restore the wetlands there and to potentially use part of the site as a staging area during the dredging of Fountain Lake.
“If you look at the map around Fountain Lake, areas for staging a dredging operation are extremely limited,” Behnke said. “That made it attractive because of the proximity to the lake.”
Behnke said district officials have been negotiating with the bank for about a year about the property, but this is the first time they plan to actually submit an offer.
The offer comes after St. John’s Lutheran Home at the end of 2010 purchased the other half of the property known as “the back nine.” The land is adjacent to Edgewater Park.
St. John’s is planning to begin construction this fall on a senior campus overlooking Edgewater Bay, which will include not only a nursing home but also an assisted-living complex and an independent-living complex, all joined by a town center. Plans also call for owner-occupied duplexes.
The land had been in the hands of the bank after it was surrendered by commercial developer Scott LaFavre following the property’s foreclosure. At the time LaFavre owned the land, it was known as Eagle’s Rest development, though the development never came to fruition because of litigation brought by contractors.
Behnke emphasized that the watershed district staff are not developers and they have no interest in developing the property to be a residential development.
“If we do get the property, we’re going to clean it up,” he said. “Even during the staging process, it will be in a manner that is considerate of the adjoining property owners.”