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Montevideo American-News - Montevideo, MN
  • City staff directed to work with SpecSys, find a way to accomodate business growth and MRHC

  • After an open hearing on Monday night, the Montevideo city council has directed city staff to work with Kevin Wald, CEO of SpecSys Inc., to see if a compromise could be reached that would allow the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center (MRHC) to maintain their lease at the Montevideo rail yard, while also providing space for SpecSys to build near the railroad somewhere in or near Montevideo.
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  • After an open hearing  on Monday night, the Montevideo city council has directed city staff to work with Kevin Wald, CEO of SpecSys Inc., to see if a compromise could be reached that would allow the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center (MRHC) to maintain their lease at the Montevideo rail yard, while also providing space for SpecSys to build near the railroad somewhere in or near Montevideo.
     
    It is unclear where such space may be available outside the Montevideo rail yard. Last year, city staff worked extensively with SpecSys to find a location, and even proposed a land exchange with railroad company Twin Cities and Western (TC&W) that they felt was favorable for all parties. TC&W was not interested.  
     
    The open hearing was held at 7 p.m. at city hall. The council chamber and hallway were packed with residents and neighbors of Montevideo there to testify on how the Montevideo rail yard should be used, when the lease to the MRHC ends at the end of the year. Of particular contention were the options of renewing the MRHC lease with new terms, or using the space for industrial purposes, such as with SpecSys.
     
    Public testimony
    First to address the council was Montevideo resident Derrick Schiff, who was in favor of industrial use at the rail yard. He told the council that being in favor of industrial use had caused him some backlash from the community on the street, and via anonymous phone calls.
     
    “After I moved to Montevideo I was surprised to find out (the rail yard) was being used,” Schiff told the council. “I’ve also heard comments from my visitors (at my business) that it’s a shame no one was using or keeping the space up ... That’s very telling.”
     
    He told the council that If the rail yard is supposed to be providing a historical benefit, it’s not always being viewed as such.
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    He also told the council that the MRHC had left money sitting on the table. “I’m not sure why – it speaks to the forward momentum of the group,” Schiff said.
     
    He told the council he felt the land would better serve Monte­video by providing jobs, but that the MRHC didn’t need to shut down if a business started in at the rail yard.
     
    Speaking for the MRHC, Jim Ruether addressed the council. He told them the MRHC group had been operating at the rail yard for 21 years under various names, an
     
    See MRHC page 10A
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