Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 3, 1999

Task force forming for HL city hall restoration

By Andrea Vargo

The historic city hall building and the need for a task force to plan for its future was the topic of discussion for the Howard Lake City Council at a special meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Don Danford led most of the discussion, as he is also a member of the City Hall Restoration group.

Invited to the meeting were representatives from the Howard Lake Lions and the Howard Lake Historical Society.

He talked about three presentations from architects at the last city council meeting on the direction each would take in planning for the restoration of the building.

They covered different areas and were difficult to compare, he said. But the one that stood out in his mind was from Gary Hay of Hay-Dobbs, Inc.

Hay is a former Howard Lake resident and knows the area well, said Danford.

"It is clear from these presentations that we need to stop and see where we go from here. We need to pick one of these architects and stick with him the whole way through the project," he said.

The council agreed with Danford and chose to use Hay-Dobbs. The other two companies will be notified they had not been chosen.

Bathrooms are out

It had been planned to renovate the bathrooms in the liquor store that occupies part of the city hall building, but there won't be enough funds from the grant and private funds for this year to complete that extensive work.

The present action will be to rewrite the grant for restoration money to only include exterior work.

The entrance door for the off-sale that was destroyed by vandalism needs to be replaced immediately, said Mayor Gerry Smith.

The broken door will be upgraded to handicap accessible soon, agreed the council.

Any excess cost over the insurance coverage can be taken from the grant money, said City Administrator Christina Frankenfield.

Lions

The Howard Lake Lions use the second floor of the city hall building for meetings. The organization also operates the teen center and has a pull-tab booth in the liquor store.

Lions representative Sam Gruenhagen said the Lions will go with whatever plan the city comes up with. The organization would like to stay in the liquor store, where ever it is.

Said Danford, "I know just how much the Lions do for this community, and that is why you were asked to come to this meeting. We want you to be part of the planning process."

Restoration group

The city hall building is sound, according to City Engineer Brad DeWolf, said Danford.

That makes it feasible to restore and use for public purposes. If it were not structurally sound, it would not be worth the money to restore it, Danford explained.

The historical restoration group stated a desire for an elevator to be in the forefront of the planning.

It also felt it doesn't look good for teens using the teen center above the liquor store to be hanging out in front of the entrance to the liquor store.

Harriet Zander of the restoration group said, "Is it possible the liquor store could find a new home?"

So far, said Frankenfield, the city has looked into the possibility of using the old garage on Highway 12 as the liquor store, but it was cost prohibitive.

Molly Van Oss, restoration member, said it would probably cost about the same to move either the city offices or the liquor store.

"I like the idea of people enjoying the building. It is important for people to have a sense of direction on where they came from, but it is also important to look to the future," said Van Oss.

Future use

The restoration group and the council said that there are really two options for the use of the building for the city.

The city offices and police department office could be expanded and a new place found for the very profitable liquor store, or the liquor store could be expanded and the city offices could move.

The liquor store needs to have all its inventory on one floor, anyway, said Councilman Shelly Reddemann, who was very concerned as to what use the city hall could serve.

He is in favor of moving the city and police department offices.

Reddemann explained there is also the problem of staffing, if the police department and the city offices are separated for any reason.

Frankenfield said Dorothy Novak does work for the police department, as it comes in during the day, and also serves as a back-up for City Clerk Gene Gilbert.

If the two departments are separated, her time would have to be reduced to part-time, and a staffing person hired to cover the police department.

"We had some nice designs of an expansion of the library building to include the city offices and police department, but they are just laying around somewhere," said Reddemann.

Smith stated that he felt the plans were not complete, because (a use for) the existing city hall is the other half of that equation.

The need for a task force to study the future use of the city hall resulted in the appointment of Danford as city council representative on the task force.

The police department will also be represented, probably by Police Chief Mike Simmons.

A request was made to the restoration group and the Lions to appoint representatives from their organizations to be approved at the May 4 council meeting.

A resident is needed to fill the fifth spot on the task force, and anyone interested in the project should contact city hall.


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