Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 1, 1998

Group discusses Winsted city hall options


The topic of Tuesday's public meeting was suppose to be what people want in a city hall for Winsted, whether it be a new, remodeled, or purchased building.

The overriding conversation was opinions on what to do with the old city hall building.

About 10 people attended the meeting at the fire hall, in addition to the building committee, architect, and an historian from the Minnesota Historical Society.

RCM Architect Gary Turpening said renovating the old city hall is feasible and gave an overview of what that would entail.

He said roof trusses must be replaced, as well as five to 10 percent of the exterior brick, due to water damage. The repairs, along with an addition on the back side of the building would cost about $1.3 million "for a first class building."

He said a new building of the same size would cost about $1.5 million.

Questions arose as to where the library would be and how big an addition would be built. Members of the committee said that this meeting, to find what people wanted in a city hall, would help determine the size.

Gordon and Lenora Kubasch said they thought the hall should be torn down and the city should purchase the Niro-Sterner building, where the city is currently renting office space.

Several others agreed with that sentiment. The city's lease there is up in October.

After listening to the various opinions, John Lauber of the Minnesota Historical Society said he "couldn't be quiet any longer," and told the group that, before deciding whether or not to refurbish the city hall, a re-use study should be done.

"The historical society already has the the tools to do a re-use study and will pay for one-half the cost. We'll bring a a team of people and gather information for about three days and submit a written report. It's a good tool to help decide if you want to tear down the hall, use it as a city hall, or a bingo palace," Lauber said.

The study would take from eight weeks to three months to complete, "but the building is 100 years old. If you can hang on for six months, it's a good way to decide what to do," Lauber said.

Toward the end of the meeting, suggested needs for a city hall were made. Those were a library, police department, senior center, council chambers, and community room.

Mayor Don Guggemos also mentioned the city has a 99-year lease with Winsted Township and is obligated to provide meeting and storage space for the township.

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