Wyoming will get cost estimates for converting city hall

As part of council study of possible purchase of RiverBank building

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

Wyoming city officials on Tuesday, May 15 authorized an architectural/engineering services agreement with BKV Architects to prepare a design and cost estimate of converting the existing city hall into a public safety building.

The council is seeking more information about the economics and feasibility of converting the current city hall into a public safety building. This is part of determining if the city can more seriously consider making an offer to buy the vacant RiverBank building.

The council authorized spending $10,000 to cover the cost of the architectural services. Funding is to come from the police impound fund. Money in this fund is designated for public safety expenses.

Contacted later, Police Chief Paul Hoppe said the fund currently has a balance of about $17,000.

More Questions

Questions about the proposal came during open forum discussion.

Dan Babbitt, who lives on Glen Oak Drive, asked about the city plans to check on the convertibility of the existing city hall.

Neil Gatzow, a former mayor, attended the pre-meeting work session. He was concerned about a city purchase taking the property off the tax rolls.

One of his concerns was the public hearing about the matter, tentatively scheduled on Tuesday, July 3, the night before a major holiday.

Ed Hine, another city resident, also questioned the hearing date. Because of the holiday there might not be many attendees, he said.

City Administrator Craig Mattson said the reason the date was considered is because that is the regular council meeting night. Officials were trying to set the meeting as it normally would, rather than have an additional meeting. Either way, some would be upset, he added.

In answer to a question about an offer for the building, Mattson said the FDIC appraisal was for $1.2 million. The city had made an offer of $800,000. The resulting counter offer by the FDIC was $835,000.

As for the architectural study, Mattson explained that the FDIC wants the deal done in 45 days. A number of schedules must be accommodated if that schedule is to be met, he said.

The study will determine if the renovations would fall within the $2 million budget the city tentatively has for purchase and renovations. It is the total package which must be determined, Mattson said.

With opposition to spending any money for the architectural study, Council member Joe Zerwas reminded the audience that the money for the study is coming from the impound fund, a non-levy revenue source. By state law, money in that fund must be used for police/public safety expenses.

The opposition seems to be that if the police fund is used for this design study, it would not be available for other police-related expenses such as repair of squad cars. That would mean money would have to come from the general fund.

More overriding, the perception seems to be that if the city sinks $10,000 into the study, it has committed itself to the action. There was some confusion on the part of Babbitt and Ken Anderson about the need for an architectural study at all.

According to Hoppe the BKV group had the lowest of three bids for the project. The company has experience in public safety construction projects. The project will consider the condition of the existing building structure, mechanical and electrical systems.

BKV will work with the building committee to review current and anticipated space needs. Then a concept plan will be developed and project cost estimated.

The motion passed by a vote of 4-1.

Council member Linda Yeager voted against the action. Her concerns were the relatively recent $165,000 to renovate and remodel the former town hall for the police department.

Council member Steve Zerwas had arrived by this point in the meeting to participate in the vote.

Mattson said scheduling the public hearing will be an agenda item at the Tuesday, June 5 council meeting.

The hope is to for it to be scheduled for either June 26 or July 3 to meet a September 1 deadline.

Road Work

Road construction season is in full swing. The council approved plans and specifications for the work to be completed on US-61, (Forest Blvd.) this summer.

The work will be construction of left turn lanes at 250th Street. Maranatha Church is the city  polling place, therefore US-61 must be open for the primary election on August 14 and the general election in November.

City Engineer Mark Erichson suggested three closure time-frames to allow some flexibility for contractors preparing bids. He believes this will be beneficial for the bids. The intersection of Fenwick Ave. with US-61 will also be closed as part of the overall road project.

The project is being completed in cooperation with MnDOT. Action also authorizes advertising for bids for the work. Council approved the action by a vote of 4-0, with Steve Zerwas not present for this vote.

Besides reconstruction and major road work there will be seal-coating and crack-filling on some city streets. The 2012 Crack-Fill and Seal-Coat Improvement Project is being developed. Proposals are to be presented to the council for authorization to advertise for bids. Work is to be completed this summer.

Erichson reported that staff members have met with Fairview officials to coordinate access to the hospital campus during road construction on US-61 and during the Fallbrook Ave. Reconstruction Project. Traffic control plans have been provided to Fairview officials for review and comment.

Other Topics

As part of compliance with state Records Management Statute 138.17, the city must adopt a plan to manage records in an orderly way. The rules identify which records which must be retained and as well as a time schedule for proper disposal of others.

Mattson explained that this is a state requirement which the city currently follows, but the council action makes it official. Some council written records must be permanently retained; others will be converted into digital form or into laser fiche.

The council adopted a resolution lowering the limit of liability insurance coverage for Spohn Ranch and its contract for design of the Skate Park from $1.5 million down to $1 million. Attorney Mark Vierling said he was comfortable with the request from the company.

The company is only designing the skate park. It is not a Minnesota company.  Vierling said if the company was building the park he would be more in support of the $1.5 million. Their insurance would be applied first in the event of a claim.  There is a paragraph indemnifying and holding the city harmless in the event of a claim.

Council approved a request by Jason D. Houle, Rocket Holding Company LLC, to put up a Quonset-shaped membrane structure to store equipment. The building is to have dimensions of 44 feet by 88 feet. The property is at 24232 Greenway Ave.

Building Official Fred Weck said the site is screened by trees and meets other ordinance requirements. The planning commission recommended approval. Council approved the request by a vote of 4-0. A building permit must be issued before site work begins.

Other Business

In other business, the council:

•Was reminded of the next regular meeting Tuesday, June 5.

•Approved minutes of the May 1 meeting by a vote of 4-0.

•Authorized payment of bills, payroll, and journal entries for May 2-15.

  • Arnold Lahd

    While I think the city hall idea, buying the fairly new bank for a city hall, is a sound idea, as a taxpayer, I’m not excited about switching the WPD and public works around. However, if this whole plan CAN be CAPPED at $2 Mil (doing everything) we would be ahead, cost wise, by moving on this now. All the work that would be needed, in the future, ad hoc planning committees, coming up with plans, reviewing them, public hearings, changing them, etc., costs associated with building a future city hall from scratch, would no doubt exceed $3-$5 Mil. As to the police / public works part of this current proposal, we have stable leadership in Chief Hoppe and PW Director Windingstad. We’d need them as assets in dealing with all the stuff with over seeing, moving, coordinating issues, etc. As to politics, if the Mayor, Elmore and Joe and Steve Zerwas aren’t behind this, unanimously, then I would say, we shouldn’t go forward. Three yes votes won’t do it.

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