Nisswa City Council talks about building a new Pickle Factory, other facility improvements

Talks include building a city government center and emergency services center, and a city sales tax

Nisswa City Council wokshop to discuss future projects Jan. 30, 2023.jpg
Nisswa City Administrator Jenny Max leads the council in a workshop to discuss future projects Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, at city hall.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

NISSWA — An outdated city building and others that need renovation and other work led to talk about a newly constructed Pickle Factory and a new government center and public safety center for Nisswa.

Reviewing past city projects and looking ahead to 2023 and beyond projects, the Nisswa City Council tackled ideas during a two-hour workshop Monday, Jan. 30, at city hall.

City Administrator Jenny Max gave an overview on the city’s strategic plan process implemented the past two years, 2022 projects and possible 2023-24 projects.

The city does have $150,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to spend.

Council members took turns highlighting their thoughts and how to identify projects.


Discussion included a detailed 10-year building matrix, with the Pickle Factory, city hall and fire hall identified as being most in need of improvements or even new construction.

The Pickle Factory, built in 1971, is in the worst condition and rebuilding is a recommended option. Council consensus was that the Pickle, a municipal bar, remains important to the city’s downtown.

Other recommendations included building a city government center near the Highway 371/County State Aid Highway 77 intersection, and building an emergency services building there or elsewhere and repurposing the existing fire hall for a public works facility.

The council must decide how to tackle any facility improvements, whether it be all at once or parts at a time, as well as how to pay for them.

Without land we can’t do anything else other than what we have right now. So I’d like to know what the options are.
Mark Utzinger

Even if these projects are years down the road, research and planning must start now.

And some repairs are needed regardless, including fixing the fire hall roof and city hall issues, the council seemed to agree.

Regarding parks, the council debated the need for a $4 million hockey arena.

Also mentioned were the needs for a city water system and workforce housing.


To move forward, the city needs to look at property, said council member Mark Utzinger.

He recommended staff research what land is available and at what cost. The longer the city waits, the more it will cost, he said.

“Without land we can’t do anything else other than what we have right now. So I’d like to know what the options are,” Utzinger said.

The council indicated interest in pursuing a city sales tax to help pay for projects. Max explained the city must first receive legislative approval, and then voter approval. A local option sales tax would have to follow criteria regarding what the funds could be used for.

“I just think we’re missing out on a revenue fund,” council member Mark Froehle said, noting he was open for more dialogue.

Find recordings of Nisswa City Council meetings on the city's YouTube channel.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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