Kenyon Rose Fest

The Rose Fest committee asked the Kenyon City Council for a $3,000 contribution — a request that left the council with more questions to consider before making a decision at its July meeting. Rose Fest is scheduled for Aug. 16–18, 2019. (Leader file photo)

Talk about toilets sparked some disagreement among Kenyon City Council members at its June 11 meeting.

The Rose Fest organizing committee has requested a financial contribution of at least $1,000 from the city, mainly to cover the costs of port-a-potties used during the event’s Friday and Saturday evening dances.

Mayor Mike Engel supported the continued contribution from the city, noting that the municipal liquor store gets a significant portion of the benefit from the toilets. Though the city has made a contribution in the past, Engel suggested it be earmarked for the port-a-potties in the future.

Councilor Dan Rechtzigel, though supportive of Rose Fest, argued that the committee should have submitted a request to be considered with the city’s annual budget, rather than two months before the event.

“I just want to know, where do we have a spot where we’re going to take $1,000 from in the budget? Let’s find out where the money’s coming from, and then we can go down that road,” said Rechtzigel.

Then there was the issue of the committee’s request for $2,000 from the Carriage and Cutter festival fund, which did not actually contain that amount, according to Engel. In February, the main parade was canceled, but organizers had already spent the funds — plus, it’s uncertain whether the festival will return in 2020.

“I am not yet convinced that this event will not come back,” said Engel. “I don’t feel comfortable with totally stripping the account or whatever may be left right now, and then some people step forward and want to get it going, and have to start from scratch. I don’t feel good with that.”

According to Rose Fest Committee member Terri Malloy, the city’s usual $1,000 contribution covers the port-a-potties, but little else. Other funding sources include leftovers from previous years and income from vendors and the parade, but this revenue doesn’t necessarily cover the costs.

“There are people on the committee who have routinely every year put in their own money to help fund things,” said Malloy. “This is a little festival, but we want it to be enjoyed by a lot of people, and something that’s talked about and people want to come back to.”

If the municipal liquor store takes over the port-a-potty costs, it’s possibly the previously free dance would require a cover charge of at least $5, said Engel.

The council agreed to make a decision on the issue at its July meeting.

Second Street construction

Before Rose Fest, Kenyon will undergo a $215,000

along Second Street between Forest Street and Red Wing Avenue, which will likely begin in late July.

Since the project involves tearing up parts of the street, the council plans to hold a meeting with affected businesses in late June or early July, though no exact date has been set.

The council is also looking toward the potential Red Wing Avenue street and utility improvement project for 2020. Before the project moves forward, the council needs to hone in on financing needs and other project plans, which they’ll discuss at an open work session scheduled for 7 p.m. June 25 at City Hall.

Other updates

City Attorney Scott Riggs reported that the Kenyon Economic Development Authority will approve a transfer of ownership of the former ambulance facility on Second Street back to the city.

This will put the Kenyon Police Department one step closer to moving its facilities from City Hall to the ambulance building. The current building presents significant challenges, said Police Chief Lee Sjolander, including no separate interview room, a too-open office design and inaccessibility for people with disabilities.

The council is supportive of the move, though the timeline and budget are uncertain.

On the other side of City Hall, the Kenyon Public Library will also undergo a facelift this summer. Library Director Michelle Otte expects the library to be closed for about two weeks right after Rose Fest — its slowest time of year — in order for workers to replace the carpet and touch up the paint.

During that time, Otte hopes to have a mini-library available in the council chambers, though the public would have no access to library computers.

“I think (the improvements) will be another way to get people in,” said Otte.

Reach Reporter Anne Kopas at 507-333-3148. Follow her on Twitter @NFNanne.

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