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County building projects move forward

Goodhue County Board pushed ahead on a number of building projects Tuesday, including construction of facilities maintenance and Public Works garages and demolition of the Public Health Building.  But the fate of the Citizens Building remains undecided.

The board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Schwab out of Rochester to handle construction of a facilities maintenance garage to be built between the Law Enforcement and Justice centers.

The county received five bids late last week, with Schwab coming in the lowest at $263,000, Goodhue County Administrative Assistant Stacy Thuman said. The garage was designed by Setzer Architects in Red Wing.

Project funding will come from a balance carried over from the county’s 2005 Capital Plan originally slated for renovations to the Public Health Building, according to a staff report.

Work is expected to begin next month and completed by the end of the year, Thuman said.

Commissioners also agreed to move forward with the first phase of a new Public Works garage. The estimated 220-foot-by-60-foot structure will be built near the Public Works building on Pioneer Road at a cost of around $382,000, according to a Committee of the Whole presentation prior to the board meeting.

The idea of a Public Works garage was first discussed as part of the county’s long-term capital needs plan, Thuman said. The structure would be shared by Public Works, county surveyors and the Sentence to Service program.

Commissioner Jim Bryant asked if the building would be large enough to accommodate all three departments.

Public Works and other department staff are still evaluating their space needs, Thuman said, but warned that if the board did not approve the project Tuesday, there would not be enough time to get footings in place before winter.

“We’re probably behind on where we should be at this point,” she said.

Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel suggested the board approve the project to get under way, but asked the three departments to report at a future board meeting whether the building will be large enough.

“Before we get too far, we need to make sure this is going to meet our needs,” he said.

The project will be split into three phases, with construction on the main garage structure to begin this fall by Sentence to Service workers.

The county also will work with engineering firm Widseth Smith Nolting to make sure the lot’s stormwater management plan complies with city regulations, Thuman said.

The second and third phases include renovating the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office shed, as well as regrading and blacktopping the site. The exact cost of those plans are unknown, but will be at least $200,000, Thuman added.

Staff also provided an update on the county’s vacant Public Health Building, which was approved for demolition by County Board last May.

Workers are removing lead and asbestos from the building and the demolition is ready to go out for bid, Thuman said. The demolition also was approved by the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission.

The county will have to come up with a plan to either build on the lot or plant landscaping by the end of May 2014, County Administrator Scott Arneson said.

Citizens Building undecided

Commissioners continued to discuss the possibility of relocating the Goodhue County Historical Society to the Citizens Building, but chose to not take action until it was clear what the society plans to do.

County staff summarized a recent study on the feasibility of moving the History Center from its current location on Oak Street to the Citizens Building closer to downtown Red Wing. It would cost around $10 million to expand and renovate the building, and an additional $3 million to set up the museum in the new location, according to the study.

Rechtzigel said he would like to see the county partner with the city of Red Wing while seeking state funding in order to pay for the project.

“The number is large, no doubt about it,” Rechtzigel said. “It is unacceptable for Goodhue County to bear it on our own.”

County Administration met with Sen. Matt Schmit and Rep. Tim Kelly to discuss the options of using a state bonding bill and Legacy Grant for funding. “They were very encouraged by the project,” Arneson said.

County Board previously discussed renovating the Citizens Building for use by county departments or renting it outside groups.

Commissioner Ron Allen, the county’s liaison on the Historical Society Board, said directors are about evenly split on whether they want to relocate the History Center.

County Board ultimately decided to direct staff to write a letter to the Historical Society Board asking if they would be willing to partner with the county and city of Red Wing to renovate the Citizens Building and relocate the History Center.

Allen said he will present the letter to the Historical Society’s Finance Committee next week, and expects to receive a response in time for the Oct. 1 County Board meeting.

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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