Kasson, Historical Society to work out Water Tower differences
The City of Kasson will continue an agreement regarding the Old Stone Water Tower through the end of the year while working with the Dodge County Historical Society to determine the best option for the future of the iconic 1895 structure.
The agreement between the entities as to which is responsible for exhibits, maintenance and landscaping at the city-owned tower was drawn up when the tower was renovated in 1997.
A new agreement, dated Oct. 10, discusses termination of the original - which states that the Historical Society is responsible for watching over the historical aspects of the tower. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The other agreement is 20 years old. It’s just hard to track what was the intent,” City Administrator Theresa Coleman said following the Oct. 25 City Council meeting. “It’s about the intent of the original agreement, and what would be covered under the original agreement. So this is a way to clarify who’s responsible for what, and to get communication open again.”
Tempers flared during the Council meeting with discussion on whether to change wording on the 1997 agreement or let it lapse.
Councilman Coy Borgstrom, president of the Historical Society board, said he wondered about the driving factor behind ending the agreement.
“This is still in place,” he said.
Coleman said there was “a complete lack of communication” on the Historical Society’s part, that it failed to respond to a letter she sent regarding the original agreement.
“That seems to be the issue,” councilman Lonnie Zelinske said. “They don’t follow through. You have to follow through with what you have to do.”
Historical Society treasurer Linda Jerviss said the agreement was never meant to be terminated, but she wanted it to be reworded. She said she waited a year to hear from the City, then received the letter of termination.
“It isn’t a matter of not following through. It’s timing,” she said. “We would like to keep the agreement in place, so we can help the City watch over the water tower.”
Councilman Doug Buck proposed a motion to keep the existing contract in place.
Mayor Chris McKern asked that the two entities meet and come to an understanding.
“We all want the Stone Water Tower,” he said. “We need to have an agreement that we can abide by, and not have to worry about it for another 20 years. Let’s move on and get this put to bed.”
The motion to continue the agreement through the end of the year passed 3-1, with Borgstrom abstaining.
“I thought the eventual decision was a good one, to have what would basically be an ad hoc committee formed, with the two entities involved, to hash out something with respect to this - either confirming the 1997 agreement or tweaking the 1997 agreement or scrapping that and having an entirely new agreement,” Historical Society Executive Director Don Westfall said.