Farmland demolition news brings mixed emotions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 10, 2002

With news that the ruins of the Farmland buildings are to come down, those who see the site the most are excited to see what the changes bring.

&uot;It was a mess when (the fire) happened, just an unbelievable mess,&uot; said Helen Bunnel, owner of the Donut Hut, which is across the street from Farmland. &uot;I’m just happy that they’re finally getting it settled.&uot;

Wednesday Albert Lea residents learned that the city will be able to begin demolition on the old plant soon. The reaction of many who live or do business around the plant was a mix between a mourning the loss of jobs and a historic factory, and happiness that the &uot;eyesore&uot; will finally be gone.

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The neighborhood surrounding the plant is not very residential, though there are a handful of houses directly across Main and Garfield from the plant.

One resident in those houses, Miguel Garza, 20, said, &uot;I just wish they would rebuild the plant right here so there would be jobs and people wouldn’t have to travel so far for work.&uot;

Garza’s father-in-law had worked at the plant for many years and the layoff has caused him to have to find work elsewhere. As for getting the clean-up done and the remnants of the plant off the site

&045; &uot;It doesn’t really bother me at all,&uot; he said.

Bunnel said her concerns about the plant are much more to do with the 21 years of business for the Donut Hut in which she served Farmland workers every day. &uot;We’d get a lot of workers in the morning here and many birthday orders throughout the year,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s tough not having them around anymore.&uot;

Jack Leach, a Donut Hut customer and the owner of Leach Sod and Nursery, a company which shares a fence with Farmland, said he looks forward to seeing the old plant come down. &uot;It’s not a pleasant site, that’s for darn sure. It’ll be nice to see it cleaned up down there for once and for all,&uot; he said.

Amber Smith, a veterinary assistant at the Albert Lea Veterinary Clinic, which is just down Main Street from the site, said, &uot;I think it will be a pleasant change.&uot; Smith said she looked forward to seeing the skyline change and to hearing the ideas that people have for the site, which will be owned by the city.

Smith’s co-worker, Betty Kleinbeck, another veterinary assistant, said, &uot;The site has been a reminder of the past; of the loss of jobs, the hard times we are on, and of the unemployed. It will be nice to have it gone because of that.&uot;