April 23, 2007

Dassel commits to $150,000 over three years for project

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

After looking at plans for the Dassel Area Historical Society’s expansion of the Universal Laboratories Building, the Dassel City Council decided last Monday to invest $150,000 in it over three years.

The expansion is estimated to cost $330,000. The architect who drew the plans, Kevin J. Anderson, is originally from Dassel, said City Administrator Myles McGrath. Anderson drew two sections onto the floor plan of the Ergot building, now a museum. The section including the 47 x 19 foot entryway, bathrooms, offices, storage, and a staging room type of kitchen is the part in which the city of Dassel is investing, McGrath said.

The Historical Society already has commitments for more than half of the total. A capital campaign is scheduled for kick off during Red Rooster Days in September, he said.

Anderson also drew a 47 x 47 foot community room onto the plans in case the city wants to take advantage of 2007 material prices for it. The expansion now will cost $75 per square foot. The cost of materials have been climbing 15 to 18 percent a year, McGrath said.

If both phases are built now, it will cost much less, and the city can use the same contractor, he said.

Initially, Council Members Bob Lalone and Pat Haapala expressed reluctance to commit city money to such rough plans. The doors are not drawn into the floor plans, for example. Lalone said he was concerned the bathrooms and kitchen might not be adequate.

McGrath said if the bids for the construction come in too high, or the project doesn’t work out, the expansion committee will have to rethink what it will do, and the city will only be out the money it spends on the architect and blueprints.

Other projects

In other business, the council approved the low bid of $474,000 from Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix of Annandale for the Fifth Street project. The engineer’s estimate was $540,000, according to City Engineer Chuck DeWolf of Bolton & Menk.

The city received 10 bids, ranging up to $629,000 for the project. DeWolf has seen Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix’s work before, and it does a very good job. The project will begin mid-May, he said.

For informational purposes, the city also held bids for the 100 feet of Marcia Street that intersects with William Avenue, and is across the street from Dassel Lakeside Community Home. Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix bid $35,900 to put a bituminous surface on the street, which is only dirt now, and erodes into William Avenue every spring.

The engineer’s estimate was $38,000. Residents on either side of Marcia Street will be partially assessed if the city decides to take on the project. McGrath said he will show the information to the developer, Howard Page, to see if Page wants to take advantage of the favorable bid.

The city also bought an Arctic Cat ATV with many options and extras from Tangen Ford Mercury of Litchfield for $7,227. Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak had heard April 2 about Arctic Cat ATVs on sale for $3,900 in Brainerd, but they turned out to be smaller and older models with limited warranties.

In addition, the Dassel Fire Department is starting the process to buy a grass rig to replace its 1978 unit. “It’s in rough shape,” said Fire Chief Dale Grochow.

Firefighters will decide what kind of unit they will need, before they write the specifications for it, and investigate prices. They might want an ATV type of unit instead of a pickup truck, Grochow said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved Mike Hanson as a new member of the Dassel Fire Department.

• listened to a report from Dassel Lakeside Community Home Director Bill Ward that the nursing home had four deficiencies to be corrected from inspections by the health department and fire marshal. The average nursing home in the state has 10 to 13 deficiencies, Ward said, so he was pleased with the results.

• heard from Scepaniak that the public works department is putting a “crown,” or raising the center of the street for better drainage, on Pacific Avenue.

• listened to a report from DeWolf that the city wants it in writing from the railroad if it does the crossing improvements, that the city will get its Quiet Zone designation.

To access past and present minutes of city council meetings, go to the web site ci.dassel.mn.us or contact the city at (320) 275-2454.

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