HJ-ED-DHJ

Sept. 11, 2006

Winsted City Center meeting Tuesday

By Lynda Jensen
Editor

There will be a special council meeting 8 p.m. at the Winsted Fire Hall Tuesday, Sept. 12 to chart a course of action regarding the proposed city center complex, public works plans and lakefront promenade.

In the past, business owners have hailed the project as an attractive way to draw commerce into Winsted and energize the downtown area.

In a related matter, the project is associated with federal dollars which may be available from a community development block grant, which could revitalize and renew the downtown streetscape.

An attractive component of the project may be that the cost is affordable to Winsted taxpayers, since the city is looking at paying off bond debts through the next two years, which means taxes could remain the same rather than go up to finance the project.

Background

City Administrator Brent Mareck said in 1892, Felton Vollmer, the city’s first mayor, recorded a village council resolution to build a village hall.

Today, Winsted residents must deal with the same issues the town founders did nearly 115 ago, he said.

In 1990, a referendum that would have dedicated $750,000 toward renovating the existing city hall or building a new city hall failed.

The last day of business in the original city hall was Nov. 4, 1997.

The city hall has rented space for nearly nine years, and currently pays $2,300 per month in rent.

Mareck said the city will have paid a total of $217,800 in rent from 1997 through the expiration of the current lease in November.

He stated that based on existing lease rates and average increases, the city would pay an estimated $454,596 over the next 10 years.

These factors led the city to begin looking at the possibility of building a new city hall in 2004.

The process began with a design team visit, followed by adoption of an action plan and formation of a city center focus group.

The group determined that a new city center should be constructed on the site of the existing public works building.

The group also determined that a landscaped promenade should be constructed from the proposed city center to Mill Reserve Park, and that a new public works building should be built at a different location.

Starting in the fall of 2005, a city center and lakefront promenade design committee met to consider space requirements and floor plans for city administration, the police department, and community rooms.

The committee also considered design and building materials for the city center and the lakefront promenade.

“The lake is one of the top amenities in the community,” Mareck said, noting that the value the community places on the lake was considered during the design process.

Mareck said that residents will be able to see the lake any time they enter the building.

The proposed city center would include a service counter, work rooms, administrative and police department offices, conference and interview rooms, and a secure evidence room.

Also included is a community room that would have seating for 160 people. The room could be divided in half to accommodate smaller groups. No decision has been made yet as to whether the room would be available for rent, Mareck said, noting that the city does not want to compete with existing businesses.

“The city did a land swap with Millerbernd Manufacturing to acquire a site for the new public works building,” Mareck said.

The site is adjacent to the fire hall, and would be accessed through the fire department parking lot.

Winsted’s 2007 preliminary levy takes a welcome dip

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

The 2007 preliminary levy was presented by City Administrator Brent Mareck during an extra long Winsted City Council meeting last Tuesday evening.

The levy proposed at $936,736 will be less than a 1 percent decrease from the 2006 certified levy.

That good news was followed by a presentation of the 2005 City of Winsted audit, that ended with auditor Paul Harvego telling the council, “the city staff is doing a good job and that overall the city is in very good shape.”

Mareck ended the meeting acknowledging $75,000 from FEMA that will be used to install a permanent generator at the Kingsley lift station.

In addition, the city will be receiving a total of $800,000 in Minnesota Investment Fund grants and loans that will assist Five Star Direct and AAA Galvanizing and be used for future projects in the community via a revolving loan fund.

Mareck also reminded everyone to attend the town hall meeting at the fire hall, Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m., where the topic will be the city center project.


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