Mikrut, city, sign off on jury award


by Sarah Squires

The city of Winona and local businessman Rich Mikrut are done in court, after both parties agreed that neither will challenge a November ruling for land condemned by the city for the Pelzer Street rail overpass.

A jury awarded Mikrut $570,000 for the half-acre parcel in November after the city challenged a 2006 award of $903,000. The property was taken in 2005 using a form of eminent domain condemnation in which the city could take the property and begin using it while negotiating payment for the land.

Now, the city has agreed to pay the $570,000 for the property, and has spent an estimated $67,000 in legal fees associated with the case.

The city had first appraised the property at $72,500, then later offered Mikrut $115,000. But because Mikrut had plans to develop the site for a truck/rail transfer facility, to which the Pelzer Street overpass cut off access, a commissioner hearing process awarded him the $903,000 figure in 2006.

A city appeal on that decision brought the figure down to $570,000, which both parties have agreed to.

The City Council opted to leave the award unchallenged during a closed session last week, when City Attorney Rich Blahnik said council members took an informal vote with a show of hands. “[The council] indicated that they wanted to bring it to closure,” said Blahnik, adding that council members all agreed to accept the ruling.

And Friday, Mikrut said that he wasn’t so much satisfied with the results as he was “sick of the battle.”

Mikrut has spent an estimated $250,000 in associated legal fees involved with the Pelzer Street condemnation. “The problem in these cases is there’s nothing left by the time [it’s over],” he said. “The legal process takes everything.”

Last month the city withdrew its appeal of an award for another property condemned in 2005 for the overpass. The city will pay about $143,000 for that parcel to Evanson and Evanson. Attorney fees associated with that case have yet to be calculated.


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