Kasson officials gather for Shopko Hometown ground breaking - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Kasson officials gather for Shopko Hometown ground breaking

KASSON, Minn. (KTTC) -- Thursday marks a pivotal moment in the development of a Shopko store in Kasson, as officials break ground on the site. After months of controversy over the project between the city and community members, the ceremony marks the no turning back point.

This new step forward can be summed up in one word for Kasson officials.
"Gratifying," says Kasson Community Development Director, Mike Martin.

After months of contentious debate between residents and city leaders, construction of the new Shopko Hometown store is breaking ground.  Shopko Hometown stores are physically smaller storefronts than the regular Shopko stores, but still offer the same variety and departments.

"There's no magic. There's work. Oppidan thankfully, and Shopko as well, and the city council was willing to do the work," says Martin.

That work started back in January, after the city released plans outlining the removal of beloved Lion's Park to build the store. It was a decision that led to many city council meetings and a divided town, including petitions and opposition from the community.

"The little kids want to know why they're taking their park away," says resident, Doreen Miller.

Today, those opinions still stand.

"I just don't think it's fair because we lost a beautiful park," Miller says. "What's wrong with the green land? I don't know, the City of Kasson just kind of does what they want to do anyway whether people want it to or not."

The city has given 17 acres of new land to replace the 4 acres lost to make way for Shopko, and Martin hopes those opposed can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Give us a chance. If there's an issue, let us know what it is, and we will see if we can address it," says Martin.

It might be a hard sell for community members, but for now, Shopko developments are full speed ahead after Thursday's milestone.

"We're not nearly done with this. You don't see an open store behind me yet," says Martin. "There are always issues that will come up."

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