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Dakota County Board: SMART Center purchase agreement tweaked

The Dakota County Government Center. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

Dakota County commissioners adjusted terms of a purchase agreement with the city of Inver Grove Heights for the site of the Safety and Mental Health Alternative Response Training (SMART) Center.

At the Feb. 5 Dakota County board meeting, commissioners approved a purchase agreement that entailed a roughly $1.08 million purchase price for the 6.27-acre SMART Center site, but voted to remove a provision in the agreement that would have specifically allowed Inver Grove Heights to use the building for free. County facilities are already free to use during open hours, but commissioners raised concerns over specifying Inver Grove Heights in the agreement.

"I am very concerned about setting aside a special deal for one community," said Mary Liz Holberg, District 6 commissioner. "There should be an equal playing field, in my mind, for all [county communities.]"

During the meeting Holberg said she worried that the provision could potentially cause issues if the county needed to charge for use of its spaces in the future.

Taud Hoopingarner, the county's director of operations management, said at the meeting that he didn't expect the removed provision to cause any issues with Inver Grove Heights' city officials.

Inver Grove Heights' City Council will receive, discuss and potentially approve the modified agreement at its next meeting, Hoopingarner said.

It will likely be officially signed in three to four weeks by both the county and Inver Grove Heights, barring any future negotiations.

The 35,000-square-foot police facility is on pace for a 2020 opening and will house a variety of county law enforcement teams and training centers in de-escalation, crisis intervention and others. At almost $13 million in total cost, it is funded in part through county dollars and state bonding.

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