Lake Elmo begins the process for reconstructing City Hall and a fire station


Aundrea Kinney/Review • An open house was held in Lake Elmo Feb. 15 to give residents an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on three possible options for rebuilding City Hall and a fire station.

With a growing population and current needs not being met by its City Hall and fire station buildings, Lake Elmo is looking to construct updated facilities. 

The city, along with its architecture and engineering consultant, the BKV Group, held an open house Feb. 15 to get resident input on three possible options for the rebuild projects.

“Some of these things — City Hall, fire station — are centers of the community and we want the community to be involved in what’s going to happen with those things” said city council member Julie Fliflet.

One of the potential options involves constructing a combined city/fire station facility at the existing City Hall site. Another option requires purchasing a neighboring building north of City Hall and creating a combined facility by adding on to the existing building. The third option involves creating a new public safety building at the existing City Hall site and building a new City Hall at the existing location of Fire Station One.

Bruce Schwartzman, a BKV Group representative, explained that the benefit to swapping the locations of the fire station and City Hall would be to have city facilities in the downtown area to potentially help foster local businesses. He added that on the other hand, the most versatile option involves purchasing the building across from City Hall, which is currently for sale.

The three options are comparable in price, with the cheapest being the plan involving the purchase of the neighboring property, which would involve a total estimated project cost of a little over $11 million.

The option utilizing the existing City Hall site would cost about $13 million and the option involving the property swap would cost a little less than $14 million.

Schwartzman explained that in general, the staff at BKV Group tried to create recommendations that involved use of land the city already owns while being as cost effective as possible.

One change reflected in all three options is the city moving from a two fire station model to a one-station model, a concept that in previous years lacked enough city council support to be enacted. 

“When staff worked with our consultant, BKV, on this, they had come to the conclusion that it would be more efficient to just have one place,” said City Administrator Kristina Handt. “If we were to go to around-the-clock staffing for our fire departments, obviously to staff one station is half the price of staffing two.”

She added that central locations were considered when examining the possibility of a new, single fire station building, in order to keep the response times reasonable.

Handt explained that after the open house, the next steps will be deciding on one preferred option and the creation of more detailed architectural drawings. She explained that some of the estimates used in the presentation were based on construction in 2019, but added that the timeline is just going to be “whatever it takes.”

Fliflet said, “I think we could take as long as we want to on this. I think it’s one of those processes that’s going to evolve.”

 

For more information on the potential changes, visit www.lakeelmo.org or find City of Lake Elmo on Facebook.


 

– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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