Rochester City Council approves deal to reactivate Chateau Theater, proposed deer hunt in parks | Top Stories

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Revival of a local landmark, and deer hunting in Rochester parks. There were an array of interesting decisions made by Med City leaders in an extra late Monday night meeting.

Deal to Reactivate Chateau Theater Approved

Council members have finally sealed a deal with a local non-profit to reactivate Rochester’s historic Chateau Theater.

The iconic space has largely sat empty since the fall of 2020, when its previous operator suspended activity amid the pandemic. City staff have been hammering out an operating agreement with Rochester’s Threshold Arts since January, when the council first agreed to allow the organization to manage the Chateau.

The deal approved Monday night will see the non-profit breathe new life into the theater over the next three years. In addition to serving as an event venue, Threshold plans to make the Chateau a community common space activated on a daily basis with educational experiences, art exhibitions, local retail, and other amenities, including public meeting areas.

With the operating agreement now moving forward, the city is asking DMC to fund additional improvements to the Chateau Theater, creating a turn-key environment that increases flexibility of rental opportunities.

Council Approves Deer Hunt in Parks

The city will invite archers into Rochester parks to hunt down this fall.

This evening, council members approved a pilot program aimed at managing the local deer population using a controlled hunt between mid-September and the end of this year.

The hunt will be managed by the Rochester Archery Club, taking place at approximately ten city-owned properties. Safety measures will include signs, caution tape, and closing when the hunt is happening.

The Rochester Police Department says there were 268 deer-related car accidents across the city in 2021. With reported deer issues increasing over the past several years, city staff says options are limited when it comes to finding long-term solutions.

“Conflicts include destruction of natural habitat, vehicle accidents, risk of transmission of tick-borne Lyme disease, damage to landscaping and trees, and decline in herd health due to overpopulation,” read a report prepared for council members. “Cost effective models for deer population control were reviewed. Non-lethal methods are inconsistent and ineffective in providing a long term solution unless combined with lethal control measures. Urban communities throughout the US have had success with controlled archery hunts. “

However, there are still outstanding questions about how to handle certain scenarios that could arise throughout the course of the program. One lingering concern is how to best prevent wounded deer from falling on private property.

“Wherever there’s housing nearby, those are [areas] we’ll have to probably do a little more notifications, and try to work with the surrounding neighbors. Maybe have a little more safety as far as location of where stands can be allowed too, if we don’t want to have somebody setting up a stand right next to somebody’s property, and try to keep them more away from the current homeowners that are around the surrounding areas, “said Rochester Archery Club Member Jeff Lein. “Hopefully, we can kind of work out areas where we’re far away from the backyards of people.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources supports the hunt, according to the city. Participants will need to be at least 18-years-old, pass a bow hunting proficiency test, and successfully complete an education course offered by the state.

The parks that will serve as bow hunting sites have yet to be determined. The city will start accepting applications from interested archers in early August, with a random drawing to fill limited spots taking place by the middle of the month.

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