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Northfield City Council Meeting - April 16, 2013

April 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm
By Jane McWilliams

Police Building Plans and Bid:  Before the council took up discussion of the proposed resolution, two citizens spoke. Don McGee said he hadn’t intended to speak, but when he read the packet he was disturbed that the cuts seem to have been taken from the portion for the fire department. He added that the lobby was “worthy of the Ordway Theater.” Victor Summa suggested that there is such acrimony about the project it should be taken to a work session so that questions, particularly those of the two newly elected councilors, could be answered.

With councilors David DeLong and David Ludescher voting no, the council approved a resolution authorizing advertisement for bids for construction of the police building, plans for which were approved by the council in January. The decision at this meeting was as contentious as it had been in January. The new councilors had many questions about the design, inside and out, as well as the cost per square foot.

City staff and Mike Clark, representing the DLR Group, the architectural firm working on this project, had prepared options for cost reductions of $241,250.00, reducing the project cost from $7,253,701.00 to $7, 012, 451.00. They also recommended that the $90.000.00 Sallyport (a secure controlled entrance) be an alternative bid. According to City Administrator Tim Madigan, it could be moved into the garage, if necessary. Or, it could be rolled into the base bid and staff authorized to create similar savings.

Councilor Ludescher said he was against the project, that the funding was illegal, that the cost per square foot was too expensive. He added that it was the council’s responsibility to make cuts, not the staff. He asked that the matter be put on a work session. Councilor DeLong agreed, and pointed out a number of ways he thought the building was too expensive. He said he had asked to be part of the development review committee, but was not included.

Councilors Erica Zweifel and Suzie Nakasian said when it comes down to finding savings, they would defer to the professionals and the architect. Councilor Pownell made the original motion, including specifying that the Sallyport be retained in the bid. Concerned that the project might be delayed, she said subsequently that she was happy to remove the Sallyport from the bid. She added that they might find the $90,000 for it elsewhere.

Other Actions:

Accepted the bid Northfield Construction and authorized a contract with that firm for construction of a concession stand at the city swimming pool.

Approved on second reading the changes to the Land Development Code (following extensive discussion), with councilors DeLong and Ludescher voting no. They also directed the planning commission do a further review of language concerning placement, massing and setback of garages with councilors Zweifel and Ludescher voting no on this motion.

Held a public hearing on and approved bids and awarded contracts for 6th Street/9th Street improvements.

Approved first reading of amending Ordinance 947, regarding the lodging tax for the purpose of improving the process and reducing delinquencies. This includes providing authority to certify delinquent lodging taxes to property taxes. The council also asked the staff to bring a proposal for an amendment to the city charter to provide for more direct and express legal authority, as suggested by the city attorney. 

Approved a conditional use permit for construction of a building on property at 512 Washington Street by Cannon Valley Friends Church.

Approved the revision of the plat in the Hills of Spring Creek Addition. The contractor Steve Schmidt made this request because the existing lots are no longer marketable in their current configuration. Rick Jackson, whose home at 1300 Parmeadow Drive has been flooded owing to the road design and other factors, pointed out that construction of even a smaller number of homes could exacerbate the flooding problems in that area. City Engineer Joe Stapf acknowledged the complexity problem in the Spring Creek watershed and agreed that something needs to be done in the area. Mr. Madigan noted that the new platting would insure fewer homes and less impervious surface. Every storm water system has a certain capacity, and when there is a 100-year flood, they will flood.

Councilors Ludescher and DeLong voted against a resolution in support of pending state legislation that would add local units of government to the list of organizations exempt from the sales tax on purchases. As he had previously, Councilor Ludescher stated that he opposed a public body asking for legislation and that “we should stick to the business of the council.” Mr. Madigan noted that this has been a long-standing issue for the League of Minnesota Cities ever since the sales tax was enacted in 1992.

The meeting adjourned at 10:15.

Comments

  • April 18 2013 at 5:27 pm
    David Ludescher

    I was really disappointed in the architect last night.  He has already been paid $337,000.00 and he can't answer some simple questions. 

  • April 20 2013 at 5:03 pm
    kiffi summa
    Jane... Two things I don't understand in the discussion about the 'sallyport' and the possibility of moving it inside the garage; this was a major issue in the NEED for a new police facility, i.e., the absolute requirement for a discrete sallyport , to provide safety for the officers. If moved inside the garage, is it still a separate enclosed unit that provides the same desired level of safety? And secondly, find $90K somewhere else or make more cuts; is it not now part of the base bid? How could something that was such an imperative not be part of the basic bid? The financing on this project just gets weirder and weirder... The statement was made at the meeting, I think by City Administrator Madigan, that neither he nor the architect were prepared to answer questions about costs per square foot, etc. Was it presumed that there were to be no more questions , and this was simply 'take the vote'?
  • April 21 2013 at 5:48 pm
    David Ludescher

    What is frustrating for me is that DeLong and I both asked about trimming the budget the last time the architect was in.  The approval got rammed through with very little discussion. 

    Now, a "trimming" comes before us without the council requesting it, and we are told what is optional.  There weren't any options for deleting what I consider to be the most "trimmable" - the large curved glass window, the "firemen area", the brick and mortar, and the auditorium.

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