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Howard Lake City Council approves new budget for historic city hall
May 18, 2018

Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – Despite the denial of a $285,000 grant request from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), Howard Lake staff and longtime project planners from Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH) presented a revised plan and budget for the renovation of the historic city hall at the council meeting May 15.

The base bid

SEH consultants Heidi Peper and Patrick Bougie have been working with city staff on the historic city hall renovation project for approximately five years.

When the MHS grant was denied, city staffers and the SEH representatives developed a work-around.

The changed plan, known as the base plan, now focuses almost exclusively on the restoration of the building’s second floor and up.

The ballroom’s ceiling will be repaired. The shingles on the roof will be replaced and, if necessary, the rain gutters will be reconstructed. The building’s iconic cupola will also be restored.

The interior of the second floor would see restoration of the proscenium arch which will open up to the ballroom and handicapped-accessible restrooms. The ballroom’s wood flooring would be restored, and the stage area would receive new wainscotting.

The HVAC system would now be installed in the ballroom’s soffits, out of sight.

The plan to install an elevator will proceed.

On the building’s exterior, doors would be replaced at the existing entrance, and the liquor store doors would be swapped out to match.

The total estimated cost of the base bid is $864,467, with a small cities grant paying for $355,000 of the project, leaving the city to cover $509,467.

The add-ons

City staff and SEH consultants also included a list of potential add-ons to the project.

These items include renovation of the former on-sale space, wainscotting the full ballroom, and a light at the top of the staircase leading to the ballroom. The add-on items add $54,859 to the project’s expense.

What about the money?

Previously, under the assumption that the MHS grant would be received, the city’s contribution to the project was to have been approximately $145,000 from the capital and general reserve funds.

Without the MSH grant, the city’s portion of the bill, including the add-ons, will now be approximately $379,000.

Assistant City Administrator Aurora Yager advised the council that “we have enough to cover it,” pointing out the city’s current fund balance of $311,000, and $629,000 in unrestricted funds.

Mayor Pete Zimmerman was in favor of proceeding with the revised plan and budget.

“This is a historic building,” he said. “Something we are known for that is not quantifiable or replaceable.”

Council Member Gene Gilbert agreed. “This is an awesome plan,” she said. “Really exciting.”

The council approved the final construction plans, including the add-ons; the final cost estimate; and directed the advertisement of bids for the historic city hall preservation project.

Golf Lake Estates

Residents of Imhoff Avenue and the Golf Lake Estates subdivision filled all the seats in the council chambers for a portion of the evening’s council meeting.

They had concerns regarding a proposal to rezone the nine-parcel Golf Lake Estates subdivision from an R1-A status (allowing contemporary single homes) to R3 status, which allows both single and twin homes to be constructed.

Lots one through eight in the subdivision remain undeveloped.

Residents expressed concerns that the proposed zoning change allowing twin homes would have a negative impact on their neighborhood.

Residents mentioned apprehensions about increased traffic, that twin homes would be out of character with the neighborhood’s single family homes, and that the twin homes might be used as rental properties.

Residents noted that the twin home built on Lot 9 of Golf Lakes Estates has had multiple problems with its residents over the years.

Residents indicated they didn’t believe the construction of twin homes would add to the neighborhood’s value or the city’s tax base.

Residents also stated their neighborhood likes the empty lots.

Council members agreed to table taking any action and sent the matter back to the City’s planning and zoning board for its members to have a chance to revisit the issue, and present a formal recommendation to the council.

Former middle school property

Following many meetings between city officials and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District representatives, the school district is ready to execute a quit claim deed, which would transfer the former middle school property and Yager Field’s ownership to the city. HLWW representatives requested a reversion clause be added to the claim.

The reversion clause ensures that if the city ever intended to sell or transfer the deed for the land, HLWW would retain a legal future interest and could reverse the transfer of property at that time.

Yager advised the council that the quit claim process provides the most efficient and cost-effective way for the city to assume ownership.

Zimmerman said, “This has been a long process, and it’s going to be longer. But this is the first really big step.”

The council approved a resolution authorizing the quit claim process to proceed.

Odds and ends:

In other business, the council:

• approved the City of Howard Lake and Annandale Maple Lake Howard Lake Waste Water Commission to proceed with a new and required Significant Industrial User (SIU) agreement with Sonstegard Foods.

• approved a temporary liquor license for the Howard Lake Orphans.

• approved an on-sale intoxicating liquor and Sunday sales license for Maria’s Mexican Restaurant.

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