Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 16, 2000

Group brainstorms ideas for HL city hall

By Lynda Jensen

Glue sticks in hand, members at a Howard Lake City Council workshop meeting sat down with residents and other city staff Wednesday to map out design ideas for city hall renovations.

Architect Tom Dodd broke out those who attended the workshop into four small groups to come up with ideas.

No decisions were made during the meeting about the renovation, since it was a workshop only to be used for brainstorming.

Participants in the groups used colored pieces of paper marked with six different areas of the building - police department, administration area, council room, on and off sale liquor store and community space - to mix and match what they thought was the best combination.

Some residents stressed that the building remain as it is, with its historical integrity intact.

"I think that building is the heart and soul of Howard Lake," commented Molly Van Oss after the small group session. "It's critical to the spirit of Howard Lake."

Clerk Gene Gilbert echoed this sentiment at the beginning of the meeting. "I love that building. It's a beautiful part of Howard Lake," she said.

"I wish that building was double the size," commented City Administrator Doug Borglund.

The role of the liquor store was discussed, including the need for additional parking space.

"There's one purpose for that building - liquor," resident Vern Kleve said.

Dodd cautioned the city about dedicating the building for this purpose, since Howard Lake will be competing with other cities for matching funds to restore the building.

Other cities applying for funds may be expanding senior centers and other more traditional civic functions, Dodd said. This might impede Howard Lake's ability to secure funds for it from the state.

Later in the meeting, Dodd suggested moving the liquor store to a different location and someone in the audience jokingly asked him if he wanted to get shot.

"I think that it's time to move the city offices and police department out of that building," commented Councilor Shelly Reddemann.

It was also mentioned that the library needed room, as well as the cable room.

"We're here today because we're growing and expanding. We need to find options to accommodate our growth," said Police Chief Mike Simmons.

Reddemann suggested the council talk with the Lions Club about the renovation, since it may include leaving out the room the Lions use for fund-raising. "We're forgetting the Lions," he said.

Mayor Gerry Smith indicated that the Lions are expecting this, but that the city should contact them as soon as possible, he said.

Although many different ideas were expressed, there was a consensus for the following, by a show of hands:

The on and off sale liquor should be kept on the main level.

The administrative offices and police department could be located on the second floor or may be moved to a different location.

Kleve mentioned that someone is going to get killed crossing the crosswalk attempting to reach the offices where they are now.

Councilor Don Danford pointed out that a recent survey that the majority of citizens wanted to keep the city offices where they were. This survey also reported that residents wanted the liquor store to stay in the same place as well.

Smith asked each of the department heads of the police department, liquor store and administrative office which location they preferred. Each mentioned that the main floor was best, but Borglund and Gilbert said a second floor location would be fine.

Simmons mentioned that a quick access on the main level would be nice for fast response, but that the police department would have a good view of the street on the second floor as well.

Voight chose the main floor. The on sale liquor store would be nice on the east side of the building, she said, with the off sale on the west. "People like their privacy," she said.

Reddemann mentioned that the new law regarding .08 percent alcohol in relation to driving would have a negative impact to the on sale liquor store sales. "It's bad for business," he said.

These kinds of laws are meant to drive small municipal liquor stores out of business, Reddemann said. The law applies to all bar owners, Voight said.

"I would never suggest that we increase our on-sale," Voight commented.

Cost-wise, the total budget for the renovation will probably be in the ballpark of $1.5 million, Borglund said. The exterior renovation will be about $400,000, Councilor John Swanson said.

The expense of the elevator drew comment as well. An elevator for two floors for the building was estimated by Dodd at $50,000. Previously, an elevator for three floors was estimated at $80,000 to $90,000.

The elevator is necessary because it will bring the building into compliance with the federal disabilities act, Dodd said. The renovations will also require a sprinkler system to bring the building up to code, he said.

The group agreed that a cost benefit analysis would be needed to made further decisions.

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