Created: 01/07/2014 11:01 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- It's a battle that's gone on for months: Kasson residents upset with city officials over a proposed retail development targeted for the city's Lions Park.
Developers with Oppidan Incorporated recently sent a letter of intent to the city saying they want to purchase 5.5 acres in the southwest corner of the park, which would be assessed at a minimum of $3.2 million.
City officials said the developers offered $135,000 up front, and would end up paying just over $1 million to buy the land, but would still need to reach agreements with several homeowners.
On Tuesday, the Kasson Economic Development Authority approved the plan and will put the idea before the city council.
But many in the community say they don't want it going any further than that.
"This is a park, this is wrong. This was wrong right from the get-go,” said Carl Zomok, who has lived next to Lions Park for more than 35 years.
Zomok said the development would hurt homeowners, tarnish the city image, and could put local stores out of business.
"Down the line when the stores close and there's going to be grass growing in the parking lot, what is that going to show the people coming in here?" Zomok said.
"This is a residential area that they want to build in, and right across the street is where the commercial is supposed to be built,” said Judy Ruport, who also lives near the park. “It does not make any sense.”
And although many residents feel like it's already a done deal, they said they're still hoping the city will prove them wrong.
"We do have areas for commercial business to go in Kasson. We don't have to spend money building a new park,” Zomok said. “We don't have to spend money needlessly to build a flood control project to keep the water out of my neighbors' homes. We don't have to do any of that."
The deal is still far from finished. The plan outlined in the letter of intent will go before the Kasson City Council on Wednesday night, and you can count on ABC 6 News to be there and keep you updated on any developments in this on-going controversy.