During a special session Monday night, the Belle Plaine City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Jared Tveitbakk as a full-time officer for the police department.

Tveitbakk replaces officer Cassie Deets, who resigned after several years with the department. Deets has accepted a job with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office. Tveitbakk has been employed by the Belle Plaine Police Department as a part-time officer.

Following what was a brief special session, the council went into work session mode, during which no official actions are taken but agenda items are addressed. Among those Monday was the possible acquiring of the former BP Station property at 521 East South Street along Highway 169.

The station, which for many years operated under Skluzacek Oil Company and decades ago as Southtown Shell, went out of business in 2010 shortly after a couple of major highway crossings in Belle Plaine were closed.

According to City Administrator David Murphy, the city has the first right to acquire the tax-forfeited property. The criteria includes:

– The city must pay all outstanding taxes.

– The property may only be used for public purposes.

– If the property is conveyed to a private owner, the city is required to pay the county and state the full market value of the property at the time of the transfer.

– The city will become responsible for any contamination removal/mitigation regarding the property.

“I recommend that we take a serious look at whether we want this property for city use,” reported Murphy. “If not, it would go for auction and would most likely be eligible for tax increment financing if purchased by a private individual and remodeled or demolished.”

In the end, the council Monday decided not to pursue the property.

“We don’t know what we would have used it for,” Murphy said Tuesday. “It would be better to let it go to auction to a private owner who maybe could redevelop it. We’d rather see it stay on the tax rolls.”

Another item on the agenda Monday was the proposed improvements to the Belle Plaine Police Department building on East Main Street.

Public Works Superintendent Al Fahey reported that the building is in need of some renovation.

“One of the first things that needs to be addressed is the front entryway,” Fahey stated. “Over the years the cedar decorative beams at the front of the building have decayed.”

Fahey added that he and Police Chief Tom Stolee have discussed some improvement options, including a plan to replace the beams with an arched laminated beam wrapped in steel. Crosby Construction recently submitted a quote for that work showing an estimated cost of $10,500. Another improvement being considered is for the construction of a new brick sign that could cost in the neighborhood of $7,000. 

The council decided to advance the proposed police department property improvements to next Monday night’s regular session agenda for further consideration.