City council discusses Otter’s Tail

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Williams Company Store was approved for a business rehab grant through a new program in Ottertail.

By Chad Koenen


A new loan program in the City of Ottertail has its first recipient. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday night, the Ottertail City Council approved the first City Opportunity Fund loan. The request came from the Williams Company Store. The new loan program is an offshoot of a program unveiled by the City of Ottertail a few years ago that focused on commercial rehab projects. 

The new loan program came to fruition after a private donation was made to West Central Initiative to assist with commercial rehab projects, new businesses relocating to town and an opportunity for nonprofit groups to receive a grant to better the community. 

The new program will offer up to $5,000 in matching grants for business rehab projects, up to $10,000 for a new business to come to Ottertail if they construct a new building and a grant for non profits to better the community in Ottertail. 

The Williams Company Store made a request for improvements to their exterior of their store/building that will replace the siding to the building. The cost of project is estimated to be $23,000, of which $5,000 will be eligible for a deferred loan. 

The loan will be placed on the property as a lien, but no payments will be required on this loan unless the property is sold, transferred or otherwise conveyed, Should the conveyance occur within three years the total loan would be repaid. After three years the loan amount is reduced by 25 percent for each year until the seventh year in which the entire loan will be forgiven.

In addition to the new loan program, the Ottertail City Council spent a great deal of time discussing the Otter Tail River and what is commonly known as the Otter’s Tail. Over the past few months the City of Ottertail, Minnesota DNR and property owners along the river have discussed what actions should take place to repair leveling of sand and possible relocation of some of the boulders along the trail. 

According to Ottertail Clerk/Treasurer Amanda Thorson, Julie Aadland of the Minnesota DNR said the organization will not put in a restoration order or fine to the property owner who may have moved the boulders and leveled the sand. According to Thorson, the DNR said it cannot determine that work was what caused the wash out of the river. The work was done last fall and several property owners attended a city council meeting earlier this year requesting the Otter’s Tail be returned to its previous state.

Ottertail Mayor Ron Grobeck said the city simply wanted the breached area to be returned to the way it was in November of 2021 and council members agreed that the area needs to be returned to the way it was last year.

Councilwoman Jill Carlson said the impression she got was those involved in the restoration effort are determined to return the Otter’s Tail to its previous state. She said few people could have predicted the water would rise as fast as it has to exasperate the issue. 

The city council said it will send a letter to the property owners involved sharing what it has learned from the Minnesota DNR and their desire to see the Otter’s Tail returned to its previous state.

In other news

• Approved allowing city clerk/treasurer Amanda Thorson to work from home a few days per month. Thorson said working from home would allow her to concentrate on certain aspects of her position like reconciling the bank statements without distractions. 

• Heard from Robert Lahman who has filed for election for Otter Tail County Commissioner in District 4. 

• Heard that the Ottertail Fire Department has responded to 122 calls already this year. 

• Heard from Bob Waters concerning a large amount of equipment and items collecting near Lueders Road. He asked the council to consider passing an ordinance pertaining to blight and items collecting on commercial properties in the community. The council said it will look into the issue concerning nuisance issues on commercial properties. 

• Heard update on the water tower project from utility supervisor Justin Lohse. He said most of the welding has already been completed and sandblasting on the inside of the water tower should be completed soon. He said the project could be completed by the first week of September. 

• Approved a private well at 159 Bayview Road for a geothermal system. 

• Heard a concern from several local families about children not being able to use the tennis and basketball courts as much as they could in the past due to a second pickle ball court being installed in the community park. The city council said it will look into adding a concrete area near the picnic shelter for a half court basketball area to accommodate both the pickle ball players, as well as those who would like to play basketball at the same time.