By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN During the Cokato City Council meeting Wednesday, the council narrowed down its options for the possible expansion of the library/museum, with one of options including the relocation of city hall.
Three preliminary design options were brought forth to the council from SEH architectural firm. Estimated costs were also given to the council members just prior to the meeting. Pros and cons were given for each option with, input from the library expansion committee, two representatives from Great River Regional Library, and Don Levens, Cokato city administrator.
Option one includes the expansion of the city’s library and museum, along with the relocation of the city hall. The expansion would go into the existing vacant lot to the north of the library/museum building.
With this option, the council chambers could also be utilized as a community room that would hold approximately 50 occupants.
The total estimated cost of option one is $1,226,000.
Pros of option one:
• allows for flexibility in use.
• proximity to school is retained and allows for partnering with school to be maintained
• proximity to park is retained.
• maintains municipal parking lot.
• re-use of existing city-owned parking lot.
• better library service and delivery entrance.
• council chambers can also be a community room.
The cons of option one:
• smaller community room.
• unknown use for old city hall.
The second option does not include the relocation of city hall, only the expansion of the library, museum and community room.
The estimated cost of option two is $1,241,500.
The pros of option two are:
• retains the larger community room (1,500 square feet).
• proximity to school is retained and allows for partnering with the school.
• future expansion capability is a requirement of the state grant funding.
• maintains municipal parking lot.
• green space allows for future expansion.
• re-use of existing city-owned property.
• proximity to park is maintained.
• partnership with museum is retained.
• better grant opportunities.
• maintains tradition of the campus feel to this part of town.
The cons to option two are:
• delivery entrance from parking requires steps or ramp.
• no clear book drop location.
• sidewalk/ramp should not be the main entry.
The third option presented was the city hall and library relocating to the current Keaveny building, which would include the former Ben Franklin building.
The estimated cost for this location is $1,415,500. The cons far exceeded the pros for this particular location, including concerns with the library being adjacent to the railroad tracks and loss of opportunity for grant funding.
The pros to option three are:
• new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
• open, adaptable interior space.
• restrooms are code-compliant.
The cons to option three are:
• loss of connection between the library, museum and school.
• parking conflict between business and library.
• lack of green space and natural daylight.
• concerns regarding the adjacency to railroad tracks including, on average, nine to 12 trains per day at a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour, along with noise. This may require fencing.
• doors open directly to exterior.
• loss of retail mix downtown.
• high energy use due to exterior shell construction.
• conflict with video store.
• future of the space is a concern with other businesses moving out.
• what happens to current library space?
• no grant money available if moving to this location.
• parking lot could be hazardous for children.
Mayor Bruce Johnson told the council he would like to see the options narrowed down to just two.
Council Member Wayne Murphy said he would have appreciated more time to review the cost figures of each option before making a decision.
Council Member Butch Amundsen said there were too many cons for option three to even consider the Keaveny building as an option.
The council voted to move forward with options one and two. Council members Gordy Erickson, Carl Harju, Amundsen, and Johnson voted in favor, while Murphy voted against the motion.
City Administrator Don Levens noted that these options were only preliminary, and more study needs to be done.
Cell site update
A representative from Unison Site Management, a large consolidator of wireless leases, attended the meeting regarding leasing space on the city’s water tower. The space is currently being leased by Verizon Wireless. Global Towers also leases a 190-foot monopole tower.
The council decided it would have a closed session during a special meeting Wed., Feb. 24 to discuss the negotiations with the city’s attorney.
In other business, the council:
• renewed land rental agreements with Anderson Seeds and Larry Davis for another two years.
• tabled a loss control recommendation to purchase a portable rescue lift until the April meeting in hopes of receiving grant money.
• heard an update on the bike path grant, which was denied under the state’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy program. The city will be working with Meeker County to apply for a grant for the trail project.
• renewed water tower service agreements with Maguire Iron, Inc. for cleaning and inspection of the city’s tanks.
• heard a verbal report from Amundsen regarding a recent OSHA inspection. He congratulated the city staff for passing “with flying colors.” The city is waiting for a written report.
• during a recent sales tax audit of the city, the preliminary total of sales tax due to the state is $10,558. The amount came from companies that didn’t charge sales tax. The city also became aware that it must pay sales tax on water pumped out of the ground that is not sold. For example, water to fill the swimming pool and flood the skating rinks.
• Johnson thanked Public Works Director Ken Bakke and his staff for getting the city streets cleared of snow in a timely fashion following the recent snowfall.
• recognized the Cokato Legion and Lions Club for contributions toward a new city shed in Veterans Memorial Park, along with a $500 check from Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club for the replacement of the boat landing on Brooks Lake.