August 20, 2007

Montrose city hall building plans

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

Plans for a new city hall building began in April 2005.

The city asked for volunteers to participate in a focus group to discuss a new city facility, but received no response.

The city first considered remodeling the existing city hall, but based on the age and condition of the building, the city determined that this was not feasible.

There was also some discussion about remodeling the Community Center, but, because the bond for the building is financed by the Lions Club, and the fire department portion is financed by fire contracts, this option was not feasible.

Later in 2005, a committee consisting of Deputy Clerk Wendy Manson, Fire Chief Mike Marketon, Mayor Charlie Nelson, and City Administrator Barb Swanson advertised for architectural firms to develop a plan for a new city facility.

After interviewing candidates, the committee recommended the hiring of Professional Design Group.

The initial plan included a public works facility, but in order to reduce costs, this option was dropped, and the size of the proposed facility was reduced.

Why not remodel the existing city hall?

The existing city hall is a former MnDot station, and its layout is inefficient, according to the city.

There have been issues with mold and indoor air quality in the facility. The city has had mold removed in the past, and more has been found.

Remodeling would not address current or future space needs of the city.

The city believes the cost of remodeling would be higher than the cost of new construction.

What are the benefits of a new city hall?

The city says the benefits of a new city hall include:

• room for an emergency management area.

• a better public image.

• the new building would meet the latest accessibility requirements.

• the latest building technology could be incorporated.

• the design would include room for future expansion as the city continues to grow.

• a more comfortable meeting environment with improved lighting and acoustics.

• space for a work area for the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

• permanent storage space.

• improved air quality and a better, more efficient working environment for city staff.

• a group meeting space available to the public.

• the council chamber and city offices could be combined in the same facility, so documents are more accessible during meetings (council meetings were previously conducted in the city hall, but were moved to the community center when the city hall was remodeled to accommodate new staff members).

• office space for the public works director.

Opposition to the plan

Some city residents have voiced objection to the plan.

One objection was that they city had not done enough to communicate information about the plan to residents.

The city has addressed the subject at council meetings, and has conducted an open house to share the plan and answer questions.

The informational meeting Wednesday will provide another opportunity for residents to get information and ask questions.

Another concern that has been brought up is the cost of the project.

According to the city, there will be “no tax impact” on city taxpayers from this project.

Want to know more?

Montrose residents can ask questions and learn more about the proposed city hall project at an informational meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Montrose Community Center, 200 Center Avenue South.

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