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Three sites pinpointed for city garage

Perham leaders are looking into possible sites for a new city garage and public works facility.

The city must find a suitable site for construction of a new facility as part of its purchase agreement with Barrel O’ Fun. The snack food company is seeking to buy the current city garage property to use for additional semi-trailer storage.

At a Perham department head meeting last week, city councilor Fred Lehmkuhl presented summaries of three locations that the planning commission is currently considering.

He said a 12- to 15-acre site is preferred, compared to the current 11 acres, in anticipation of the city’s future growth.

“We feel that we’re not going to get any smaller,” said Lehmkuhl.

The first possible site, called ‘East Park,’ is near Third Street NE and the Industrial Park. Benefits of this location were said to be “plenty of space” (the city owns 42 acres here) and a somewhat central location to the rest of town.

 Having Bongards’ Creameries’ wastewater ponds to the southwest was also listed as a benefit, since it is believed those ponds will discourage residential development in that area.

Lehmkuhl said the city garage could be used as a buffer zone between the existing residential area and future industrial space.

On the negative side, utilities would need to be extended to the site. Nearness to the residential area was also given as a potential issue for the future.

The second site being considered is a 15-acre area near the wastewater treatment ponds off Highway 78. Because this site is so close to the ponds, the planning commission believes it is not likely to be developed for any other use.

However, as it was pointed out by others in attendance at last week’s meeting, this site is far from the city’s parks, and Highway 78 has a high traffic volume as it is.

Lehmkuhl also noted that the site was filled in with soil during the recent wastewater pond expansion project, and that the soil has not been properly compacted for immediate use as a building site. Utilities would also be difficult to access.

The third proposed location is near Arvig Park. Benefits of using this site include its central location and relatively easy utilities access. The area being considered is currently only being used for snow removal.

However, Lehmkuhl added, the location is not perfect.

“First of all, we’re taking park property out of the equation,” he said. “Second thing, and to me the most important thing, is… it’s too small.”

The Arvig Park area is on slightly more than 7 acres, making it even smaller than the current city garage location.

“If you want us to say a site, we’re going to go with the East Park site,” Lehmkuhl said of the planning commission’s likely course of action if they’re asked to narrow down the options.

Although the East Park site would need work to have utilities run in for a garage, Lehmkuhl said it would also be beneficial for other potential industrial lots in the future.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said the public would have a chance to provide input. A public hearing will be held later in March to rezone the current city garage property for Barrel O’ Fun’s intended commercial use.