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Ottertail plans upgrades to community center; Bike path now under construction

The Ottertail Community Center kitchen will soon be getting a new refrigerator, freezer, microwave, and countertop space.

Vanessa Neels, representing the Ottertail Auction Committee, shared a list of suggested improvements with the Ottertail City Council at its Sept.19 meeting.

First on the list was updating to a commercial grade refrigerator. According to research conducted by Neels, this would cost about $1,700-2,000. The council approved the appliance upgrade, along with the purchase of a small, upright freezer and a large microwave that can be mounted above the sink.

Neels also brought up the suggestion of adding storage to the east wall of the center.

"We were wondering if we could put together a proposal for running a countertop with electricity the whole length of that east wall with some cupboards up above," Neels explained. "There's not a lot of room for storage right now. This would help solve that problem."

For example, the new storage plan would allow the Lions Club to store all of their paper products at the center.

"I think that's great if you guys want to get some quotes and come back and let us know. It's hard for us to really make a decision until we know how much it's going to cost," said Councilmember Heather Rosenthal.

Neels also mentioned that the Ottertail Auction Committee would like to donate toward new Christmas decorations for the city. The plan is to order more snowflakes, finish adding to the Dickens' characters, and install a Merry Christmas sign that will be positioned on the ground. The total cost for the decorations is estimated at $4,500.

Bike path under


Progress is now underway on the Ottertail bike path project.

"Central Specialties is here and they've stripped the topsoil," reported Interstate Engineering's Chris McConn. He mentioned that the pavement has been removed on the approaches that the path goes over.

McConn also provided the council with a quoted price per ton to put in an inch and a half overlay on the City Hall parking lot. This would include widening the pavement in a few areas. The estimate for the project came in around $16,000.

"This is just so you can have a ballpark figure in your mind," McConn said. "If $16,000 is something you don't think you can do then we can look at other options."

Economic development plans

Councilmember Don Patrick took some time to share his opinions with the council about hiring an economic developer.

He started out by mentioning how Otter Tail Power has an economic developer on its staff. Patrick spoke with that person, who agreed to assist Ottertail in working to attract new businesses into the vacant locations the city currently has.

"The first thing I would do is to call a town meeting and ask people for their input about what they'd like to have in their community," Patrick advised.

He mentioned how it would be beneficial to have members of the community go around and vote on their priorities based on what has been talked about during the town meeting.

"It's a pretty popular way to get a consensus on what direction to go in," he said.

Patrick said he's glad to be of assistance and volunteer his time to help the city figure out the direction to take in the future. In the past, he worked part-time for the city of Henning helping with economic development initiatives.

Members of the council discussed how they'd be interested in having apartments and an assisted living facility built in Ottertail.

Other business

-A permit was approved for Firestarters Ministries to build a dance studio onto the creamery building, along with some classrooms.

-The council acknowledged a donation of $1,625 from the Ottertail Firemen's Relief Association toward a fire thermal imaging camera for the Ottertail Fire Department.

A decision was also made to change the Ottertail Fire Department payroll from quarterly to annual payments.