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City Council tables county's request to vacate portion of Colorado Avenue

The Morris City Council on Tuesday tabled a decision on vacating a portion of Colorado Avenue, a request made to accommodate Stevens County's building and renovation project.

The county board this week voted to change its plan to include the renovation of the courthouse and construction of a new law enforcement center.

However, the new option does not include immediate construction of a jail that spurred controversy in the last six months.

Under the original plan, the county wanted to vacate Colorado Avenue between East 5th Street and East 4th Street for parking and a plaza leading to the main entrance of the refurbished courthouse. An alley adjacent to the courthouse's existing parking lot also was included in the county's vacation request.

County officials are expected to meet with Klein McCarthy Architects and project manager Contegrity Group to discuss specific designs for the new option.

The city's Planning Commission approved the vacation request, and the tabled resolution also calls for approval of the request.

In other council business:

• The city continues to monitor a bankruptcy case involving a home at 16 East 4th Street.

The city and some residents consider the property an eyesore and want to have the property cleaned up or possibly demolished.

However, the home, owned by Susan Ransone, is involved in a bankruptcy case in Las Vegas. Since assets in such cases are controlled by the judicial process, the city is unable to take any action, according to County Attorney Charles Glasrud.

City Manager Blaine Hill said that timing is difficult in the Ransone case because, according to Federal Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas, Ransone has filed bankruptcy six times since 2001, which has tied up the property disposition. The five previous filings were dismissed, Hill stated.

The city has sent letters to Ransone's attorney and trustee in the bankruptcy case. Hill said the city will monitor the case to determine when it can legally take action to repair or remove the home.

Ransone also has not paid taxes to the county for more than five years, Hill stated.

• The council approved a resolution to work with the Federal Aviation Administration on a grant to pay for construction of a parallel taxiway at the Morris Airport.

The project is about $50,000, with the grant providing $47,500 of that total.

The FAA believes the taxiway will make the airport safer for landings and takeoffs, Hill stated.

After the grant is approved by the FAA, an environment assessment will begin, he said.

• The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the council have approved an Agency Agreement that will bring in a $17,000 grant to pay for planning costs for safer routes to schools.

The city has done the work, but a problem processing the grant meant the city was stuck paying for it. According to grant rules, work done prior to the agreement being signed can't be reimbursed. However, Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard said that MnDOT notified him that the city would be reimbursed because of the processing problem.