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August 15, 2018

11/17/2017 10:51:00 AM
City council tells staff to solicit new fire hall quotes

The full Center City Council voted last week to direct staff and firefighters to take a more surgical approach on plans for expanding and improving the fire hall.

After rejecting the first round of project cost quotes (story Press Nov 2), council last week unanimously directed staff and firefighters to collect new quotes on individual components and report back.  For example-- one newer set of costs, shown to the council, reduced items tied to the structure itself from $324,000 to $246,000.  Service providers also will be contacted for new costs for slabs, footings, exterior masonry, and more.

Council members said they’ll be ready to act on a new set of estimates by the December council meeting.  The consensus was for the effort to get the budget closer to $450,000.

This is a distinct softening from the council’s initial stance expressed upon first seeing this fire hall project.  When it was brought forward April 2017 as a planned second-story addition,  estimated at $500,000,  council declared this was far too excessive.  Committee discussions have revised the  plan to be a ground level addition off the south end of the existing fire hall.

The city also was approved for a $100,000 low interest loan through ECE,  and is anticipating a grant application being successful for another $25,000.  The remainder of any debt is proposed to be serviced through firefighter charitable gaming proceeds.

The project contains remodeled interior spaces in the existing fire hall, new overhead doors for the truck bays, etc.  The city has also learned looking while into the project more closely,  that a contractor must relocate a relatively shallow utilities line in order to accommodate the addition’s foundation and do soils corrections.

Jim Marxer, fire department representative, told city council last week $450,000 should be achieveable through the new quotes. Council was pleased.

Marxer explained that due to the fact the project deadline is extended now -- contractors won’t feel so rushed and hopefully submit better quotes.  The original idea was to have the improved fire hall ready for summer 2018 Center City Days-- which is not realistic now.

Marxer did receive the okay last week, for the fire department to quickly do overhead door/opener replacement, however. “Those doors are band-aided together,”  he remarked.

The fire department plans on creating storage in a temporary shipping container as this project moves forward.  The remodel demolition inside the hall will create issues for some equipment, so council authorized Marxer’s request for placing a container on the north end of the hall for an undetermined length of time.

~ The council authorized nearly $10,000 in expenses for parts for repair/replacement of infrastructure. A number of sewer lift station wheels, rails and pumps are at the end of their useful life.
The items and hourly labor approved are through Nelson Electric Motor Repair in Howard Lake. Council questioned if other local companies were contacted.  Garner said Nelson has been providing this specialized work and equipment for Center City for years,  and he totally trusts their service.

~ Public works was okayed to look into purchase of a $1,000 hydraulic platform lift, on a trailer.  The unit extends 22.5 feet.  

Eric Garner, supervisor, explained the unit is offered by a private party in Blaine-- and he sought permission to inspect it and buy it if it looks like it meets the city’s needs.

In other matters: Council was advised the permission granted to Shawn Dunne earlier for a commercial marina on South Center Lake is no longer needed.  Dunne has opted to not do the boat rental and docking he had presented.  Parking and a host of other hurdles have come up since council’s voted allowing him to use city-owned lakeshore.

~ Swenson’s Lakehouse restaurant owners saw an unpaid utilities bill of $793 certified as a lien on property tax.

~ Council unanimously declined to impose a three percent local lodging tax.  Chisago County HRA/EDA looked to the cities to express preference on adopting the tax to generate marketing revenue for tourism. Some cities have said yes others have yet to act. The county board has not acted on imposing a lodging tax as a whole.

~ The under-the-road culvert replacement, between Pioneer Lake and North Center Lake, north of the Government Center is still on the work schedule for this month.  Garner said inconvenience should be kept to a minimum...the contractor will do a few feet, set a section in place, cover it so traffic can use the street and then do another few feet and so forth.  Residents in the area will get notice of the project start.

~ The developers of several residential lots on the farmstead just east of town “Annabelle’s Island” have held a pre-construction meeting, yet things are moving slowly, the engineer reported.  The Freundschuh parcel access road to Hwy 8 is taking shape; but the city doesn’t expect there’s time to pave it before asphalt plants shutdown.  Any house building probably will be delayed to spring 2018.

~ The new owner of Gordy’s Pharmacy, Kyle Johnson,  complained about potential for damage to his building that he noticed in a recent rainfall. He showed a video from a downpour that he recorded on his phone to council-- asking if he can work with staff on addressing this.  A deteriorated sidewalk, rooftop run-off and the hill on Busch Ave. are all factors.

Meet Santa, who is expected to arrive at 6 p.m. December 1., and gather at the bonfire for s’mores and then watch a family movie in Center City December 1.  The commercial business folks are putting the plan together, watch this paper for updates.

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