Along U.S. Highway 14 in Walnut Grove sits an old grain elevator site that has been unused for some time.

As time has gone on the structures have deteriorated, and some of the community’s leadership began talking about what to do to address the concerns that were being raised before it became even more of a problem.

The most logical solution was to demolish the structures, and so those conversations continued. Local leaders sought out people who might be able to help tear the buildings at that site down.

The problem is that the cost to raze the structures and bury the material was estimated at $40,000, with an additional nearly $30,000 needed to mitigate the asbestos on the site. Owned by the Baker family, the reality is it could not afford to take down the building. 

So the City of Walnut Grove and the Walnut Grove Economic Development Authority took the initiative.

Still, it needed added funds for the project, and so Greg Hansen, Walnut Grove mayor, and Jacob Jenniges of the EDA, came before the Redwood County commissioners at its Oct. 16 meeting to talk about the possibility of getting some help.

The county recognized the plight of the community, adding in the case of the structure like this when the issue got to be too big there was the possibility that the property would become tax forfeited and would end up in the lap of the county. Then there would be the potential that the county would have to cover the entire cost of the demolition project.

Jenniges said the Baker family is willing to provide some funding, with dollars also committed from the city and the EDA.

As the building is becoming an eyesore and is starting to lean, the issue becomes a great concern, especially for a community like Walnut Grove that has become a tourist spot for many.

The fact that the grain elevator structures are right next to the museum that is drawing those people to town takes that need to get rid of it as soon as is possible to an even higher level.

“If we let it go on the costs are only going to go higher,” said Hansen.

Jenniges added this is a building that is never going to heal itself. The plan would be to remove all of the structures on the site and to get the site back to level ground that could then be used for another opportunity in town.

Following the discussion, Lon Walling, county commissioner, made a motion to commit up to $20,000 of county funds to help with the demolition project on the condition the city was able to acquire the ownership of the site from the Baker family.

The board voted 3-2 to approve that commitment, with commissioners Walling, Jim Salfer and Bob VanHee voting in favor and Dennis Groebner and Dave Forkrud voting against the motion.