The first purchase agreement for the Winona bridge project was made public last week; more are on the way. Winona County agreed to sell a 525-square-foot strip of parking space on the south side of the Law Enforcement Center to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) for $16,700. Two parking spaces will be lost, but the vehicle bays on that side of the building will remain accessible. “This is deemed to be workable,” county staff stated in a report to the County Board.
Mn/DOT Project Engineer Terry Ward said that a number of residential properties have also signed purchase agreements, though he declined to provide more details. The agency has made offers on all but one property; the final property will receive an offer Monday, Ward reported.
If voluntary purchase agreements cannot be negotiated for properties within the proposed bridge right-of-way, Mn/DOT will attempt to seize the properties through eminent domain. Such attempts rarely fail. Court appointees try to determine a fair price for property owners in eminent domain cases. Property owners must accept that determination or sue the state of Minnesota.
Ward said that Mn/DOT will not be filing for eminent domain anytime soon. The agency has months to continue negotiations before the construction timeframe will necessitate seizure.