Biermann House (copy)

Joe Powers has vowed to restore the historic Biermann House, but the county must find qualified parkland to offset the loss of the property, purchased by an immigrant farmer in the late 1800s.

Nine properties are on the list for potential new parkland to finalize the sale of the historic Biermann House.

With plans to sell the house at 3730 Mayowood Road SW in the Mayowood Historic District to Joe Powers, who has vowed to restore the vacant building, Olmsted County commissioners must find qualified parkland to replace what is being lost.

The Biermann House was purchased in 1979 using state and federal grants, so the county is obligated to replace it with land of equal value for new recreational purposes.

On Tuesday, commissioners went behind closed doors to discuss potential purchases from four property owners.

Among the properties are three parcels near the White Bridge Fishing Pier of Lake Zumbro. In March, several commissioners voiced interest in seeking property to enhance options at the site.

“I’d be in favor,” Commissioner Gregg Wright said when the option was discussed earlier this year. “With the $7 million being put into Lake Zumbro (dredging), the public needs to have a public launch that’s accessible.”

The county is contributing $525,000 to the dredging project, which is underway.

The three properties discussed Tuesday have a total assessed value of $703,000 for tax purposes, according to Olmsted County’s property records website. That would more than double the estimated $310,000 needed to cover the replacement of the Biermann House.

The properties include two parcels owned by Richard Cordie, which combine to make approximately 1 acre near the pier. Also included in the discussion was the property that houses Fisherman’s Inn, which includes 2.92 acres assessed at $462,500.

The other properties being considered are closer to Oxbow Park, which has been discussed as an area for related parkland expansion. Those properties are valued at a combined $1.36 million, based on estimates used for tax purposes.

The properties include two parcels owned by Robert Eustice, which would provide a combined 133 agricultural acres in Kalmar Township assessed at a total of $850,800 for taxing purposes.

The remaining four parcels under consideration are owned by Richard Buckwalter in Kalmar Township. The total of 215 agricultural acres have an assessed value of $511,600.

Olmsted County Board Chairman Jim Bier said he couldn’t share details of the ongoing discussions regarding potential purchases but said the process is moving forward.

Any purchase with the intent to replace the Biermann House parkland will require National Park Service approval to finalize the transfer. Earlier this year, the county attempted to use existing owned or tax-forfeited property to complete the process, but the option was rejected at the federal level.

As the transfer hangs in limbo, Powers has taken steps to stabilize the former home of Adolph Biermann, a Norwegian immigrant who acquired the site in the late 1800s.

Once the property transfer is complete, Powers has said he plans to preserve the house and convert it into rental housing.

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Local Government Reporter

Randy is the Post Bulletin's local government reporter, covering the city of Rochester and Olmsted County, as well as Destination Medical Center efforts. He joined the Post Bulletin staff in 2014.