Old Monticello bowling alley site study moves ahead

Monticello city staff will complete a review of the old bowling alley site at 101 Chelsea Road for potential re-use as a multi-user recreation and event center.
City leaders approved the request during their Nov. 25 meeting.
Prospective building users include a Brazilian jujitsu and fitness training organization, the Monticello Soccer Club, and the Monticello Community Center, said City Administrator Jeff O’Neill.
According to O’Neill, allowing an adaptive re-use of the building until a future date when redevelopment pressure arrives required a study to determine if the idea was worth pursuing.
Councilmember Tom Perrault asked that the review be pulled from the consent agenda for further discussion. “I’m just concerned about putting value into [the building then not have anything happening to it, or paying for expanding additional services,” Perrault said.
O’Neill said the request before the council involved an authorization for city staff to work with work with any parties who are interested in using the property for the short-term. “[They] would put a minimal amount into it to make it useable. Any lease term would reflects how much money they put into it.  It doesn’t appear redevelopment is imminent. They could put a nominal amount into it get a good use.” According to O’Neill, the city would want any interested parties to have confidence in the site before move forward on a study.
“This [review] at least gives them some confidence that if the lease period is not too great, that the city would be interested in working with them for the short term to bring some life into that facility,” O’Neill said, adding the building would have to remain standing because its part of a tax-increment financing district.
Mayor Clint Herbst was somewhat skeptical about the building being reused. “It’s hard to imagine that they would be interested in it, but they are excited to make something happen,” Herbst said, referring to the potential trio of users.
O’Neill said a lease payment to the city would cover all of its costs. “We would actually gain some revenue off of the site that we don’t get now,”  O’Neill said. Herbst replied: “I think when they get their hard numbers together, it might not be so excited. It is a nominal rental. Maybe it’s a good thing for the community. There’s a lot of hurdles to [using] this building. Councilmember Llyod Hilgart wanted the Monticello Community Center staff to distance itself from the idea of reusing the building. “I would prefer the community center stays away and anybody who is interested be private,” Hilgart said.
Herbst replied “That’s a comment well taken. This might be a money pit.” Councilmember Glen Posusta was concerned about an outside group re-renting some of the space, and making money off of it.
After Hilgart motioned and Councilmember Brian Stumpf seconded the council approved a motion authorizing O’Neill and Monticello city staff to conduct a review of the old bowling alley site for the potential re-use.
Brian Anderson is vice president of the Monticello Soccer Club. In an email, he stated the club would move forward with its plans if an environmental survey is completed with positive results. The Monticello Soccer Club would then have an architectural engineer start drawing up concept plans to improve the building.
In a previous email, Anderson said the Monticello Soccer Club has been growing at a fairly fast rate, which is great especially since other sports over the past few years have been seeing drops in their participant numbers.
“We feel that soccer is a growing sport in Monticello as well as the rest of the state and nation,” he said. “In fact, until recently, I was not aware of the fact that there are more youth soccer players registered in the state of Minnesota than any other sport.”
According to Anderson, one of the key challenges the club faces is that is its players lack the ability to have a place to practice year round. “Many of the larger clubs, especially those closer to the Twin Cities, have options to train year-round,” he said. “As a result, our players fall behind in their skill development because they don’t have the winter training option. So we are working diligently to find a way to make this possible for them.”
Anderson said having an indoor facility will strengthen Monticello’s club teams, as well as school programs. “The Monticello Soccer Board feels there is an imperative need to have an indoor facility to keep our programs competitive,” he said. “The challenge has been that being a small, non profit 501C3 youth sports organization, we have a limited budget, so it has been difficult finding locations that will work financially. This location would provide a practice area, plus additional areas for other activities.”

Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]