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Wendy Reuer, Published July 01 2013

Breckenridge council poised to approve razing City Hall

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. – The City Council here will likely vote soon to raze the current City Hall and build a new facility after only a handful of residents attended a public meeting Monday night.

The council has been wrestling with the decision to raze the current building, built in 1917, or attempt to make repairs for more than two years, Mayor Cliff Barth said. The building is in need of repairs due to a shifting of the foundation.

The movement resulted in cracked and crumbling walls along with a bumpy floor in areas. Building Inspector Dave Freitag said the plaster ceiling is beginning to crumble and pieces have fallen inside, creating a safety concern for anyone inside the building.

Barth said Monday’s public meeting was held to give residents an opportunity to voice their opinions. A survey was sent out earlier with utility bills asking residents for input.

He was slightly disappointed with the low turnout Monday.

“Either (residents) aren’t interested or they don’t give a hoot,” Barth said.

Barth said repairs to the building do not guarantee longevity; they may only be a short-term fix.

Foundation and basic repairs will cost the city about $800,000, a cost that does not include needed windows and a new roof. A new building would cost about $1.4 million.

The city would bond to pay for the building, which would cost taxpayers about $70 per year on a $100,000 home for 20 years, said City Clerk Kristin Nicholson.

“Go ahead and do it; just don’t put a flat roof on it,” Mary Ann Conrad, a longtime Breckenridge resident, said Monday night.

At Monday’s meeting, residents were given a quick look at two architectural concepts of the new building. One, a 5,856- square-foot, one-story building to be built on the north side of the current site, follows a historical aesthetic with columns framing the entrance and a brick facade. A second concept, designed by an Alexandria, Minn., firm, features a more modern facade with stucco and plaster outside.

Both designs would include offices for city staff, public utilities and council chambers, which are currently located inside the building at 420 Nebraska Ave. Barth said a new building would be designed with upgrades to security, which is lacking in the current building.

“Someone could walk in with a gun and you wouldn’t know it. There’s nothing to stop them,” Barth said.

Alderman Stacy Hennen, who initially opposed razing the current City Hall, said she will now likely support building new. Hennen said she preferred the historical look of the first design, as did most who attended Monday’s meeting.

Barth said if the City Council approves building a new City Hall, construction would likely begin next spring.

‘We’d want to build the new one, move in and then demo this one,” Freitag said.

The City Council will meet next at 5:30 p.m. on July 15.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530