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Corn water tower gets new life with Olmsted County purchase from Seneca Foods

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Fears that Rochester’s iconic “Corn Water Tower” might be torn down can be put to rest–Olmsted County has agreed to purchase the water tower and all nearby property from Seneca Foods.

The agreement was announced by county officials Friday afternoon.

The county is poised to buy about 11 acres of land belonging to Seneca Foods, which currently operates a vegetable canning operation there next to Graham Park, known to oldtimers as the county fairgrounds.

Debra Ehret Miller, Olmsted County’s Director of Policy, Analysis and Communications, said the purchase price will be $5.6 million.  Miller said it’s unclear when the property deal could close.

Though not expressly promising to save the unique corn water tower, county officials are indicating they will work with the City of Rochester to preserve it.

The Graham Park site has been targeted by the Destination Medical Center Corporation as one of the “mobility hub” locations that may become a focal point for transportation systems.  Planners have also been considering ways to use the fairgrounds/Graham Arena site for affordable housing projects and retail development.

The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners will vote on a final purchase agreement with Seneca Foods at its February 19th meeting.

The flip side of the announcement is what will happen to the Seneca Foods canning operation in Rochester–Miller said she had no information about that, or if the jobs associated with the food packaging plant are in jeopardy.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He’s a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine.

After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester.

Email Noel at nsederstrom@kttc.com

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