Albeit cautiously, the Yellow Medicine County Board took another step toward facility renovations to the county courthouse and, what is expected to be, the future county government center on Tuesday.
In a 2-1 vote, commissioners approved a facility improvement committee recommendation to hire WOLD Architects and Engineers to serve as the county’s project architect alongside Little Falls company, Contegrity Group, the project’s construction manager.
According to County Administrator Ryan Krosh, the committee considered three finalists before deciding upon WOLD, which also happened to be the low bidder. The St. Paul located firm has a long history of working with courthouses, stating in its proposal to the county that, over the time of its 44 years of existence, WOLD has completed 71 courthouse projects in 20 different Minnesota counties.
During the previous board meeting commissioners indicated that they didn’t want to get too far ahead of themselves on the facility improvement initiatives particularly given the uncertainty that hangs over several county positions, both elected and appointed.
Just this Tuesday afternoon it was reported that Krosch will be asked to serve in the capacity of administrator for Nicollet County, having been named one of three finalists at a meeting prior. In addition, County Attorney Keith Helgeson was interviewed by Governor Mark Dayton, also this week, as one of four finalists being considered for two recently retired District 8 Judge seats. And finally, depending on the outcome of the November 6 elections, the YMC Board will at least see a new face fill the long vacated Granite Falls (District 2) seat, formally held by the late Dick Wambeke, but could see substantially more drastic changes depending on how commissioners Greg Renneke and Louis Sherlin fare against challengers.
The mode of hesitancy was carried over to the Tuesday meeting leading the board to nearly table the architect vote so that uncertainties might have a chance to settle and so the board –– absent Renneke in addition to the District 2 representative on Tuesday –– might have a chance to be at full-strength.
“What’s the big hurry?” asked commissioner Gary Johnson in regard to the initiative.
At present, the county has signed a purchase agreement for the $450,000, roughly 8,000 foot, Fagen Engineering building and is expecting to take over ownership in the coming weeks. Given this, Krosch said he felt it was advisable that the board move forward with the project so that the building isn’t left empty for a few months.
Property and Public Services Director Janel Timm concurred with the expedited approach, commenting that the Property and Public Service Department personnel would be anxious to make the move––at the very least so constituents could benefit from service improvements based just on layout.
Page 2 of 2 - When the question was finally called, Sherlin’s motion was approved with provisions that, in essence, allowed the county to get the ball rolling while including safe-guards that kept it from gaining too much momentum and careening out of the board’s control.
Commissioners Sherlin and Ron Antony voted for, and Johnson, against, the motion which established a contract with WOLD to perform the first two phases of a three phase plan that were outlined in the company’s architectural proposal.
The first two phases include: the preparation of construction documents for the county government center, at an estimated cost of $37,250, and, also, a space analysis of the existing courthouse in relation to county attorney and court operations for $17,000.
The third phase, left for the upcoming board administration to discuss and decide upon, revolves around the development architectural renderings for either renovations to the courthouse or an entirely new courthouse built from scratch. The former comes with an estimated price tag of $104,000. The latter, $171,500. Information provided in the first phases will help determine which of the two options is the wisest approach.
WOLD is expected to get started on the first phases immediately. A tentative timeline projects that construction could begin a hair prior to the new year.