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County Board indecisive on plan for new building

Goodhue County Board directed staff Tuesday to continue studying building options for a space shortage that has county employees cramped in the Government Center.

Staff presented two options for adding office space prior to the board meeting at a Committee of the Whole discussion, and later asked the board for direction on which option the county should pursue. But commissioners agreed further study is required before a decision can be made.

Option A includes constructing a 44,000-square-foot building at a cost of around $7.7 million. Option B involves renovating the Citizens Building for use by county employees, which would add 17,000 square-feet of office space at a cost of around $3.2 million.

Commissioner Jim Bryant suggested going back to review the county's plan for a new building -- including its cost and design -- noting that the current plan was completed in March 2012.

"15 months ago we might have been thinking one thing, but maybe something happened in that whole operation that we can look at doing things differently than how we anticipated two or three years ago when we started discussing this," Bryant said.

Staff also will study the total cost of maintaining the Citizens Center for interim use while a new building is constructed, and to prepare it for sale or rental to a private party.

"If we don't put any money into it, it's unsellable," Commissioner Ted Seifert said, adding that a private party could buy land and construct a new building for cheaper than the cost of refurbishing the Citizens Center.

One idea suggested previously was renting part of the Citizens Center to the Goodhue County Historical Society.

Regardless of which building option the county chooses, staff also presented the board with a list of additional long-term capital projects planned for the next 10 years. It includes renovations to the Justice Center, updated security systems for county buildings and roof repairs.

Commissioner Ron Allen suggested making a motion to approve the plans, but Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said it would be prudent to first hear from the Court Committee before agreeing to changes to the Justice Center.

"There may be funds that we might be able to access from the state court system to help out," Rechtzigel said.

County staff agreed the additional study process for the new building plan could be completed in a few months.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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