Letter: City problem in MinnesotaIt may have been a cute little church in its youth, but now, as an aging, neglected, and unhealthy Lake St. Croix Beach City Hall, it needs to go.
By: Ron Carlson, Lake St. Croix Beach, Minn., Hudson Star-Observer
It may have been a cute little church in its youth, but now, as an aging, neglected, and unhealthy Lake St. Croix Beach City Hall, it needs to go. A council-appointed task force weighed the options and, 18 months ago, recommended building a new 2,000 sq. ft. facility.
A new city council sat on that idea since Jan. 2007, but is suddenly impatient to buy an old and inappropriate 5,500 sq. ft. warehouse/office building to morph into a “new” City Hall for a total cost of $551,000, and very likely more. The building grew around a 1926 core and has a basement unfit for occupancy, a troublesome flat roof, antiquated wiring, inefficient heating and cooling. It’s not handicap-accessible.
The council approved a $325,000 long-term bond to supplement available cash. Gotta have it!
In its zeal to buy, the council failed to do important building and soil testing, didn’t bother with renovation plans and cost estimates, made no plans for the excess space, did not allow questions at the bond hearing, and didn’t even get an appraisal (the Washington County Assessor pegs the market value at $369,600!). Is that a puzzle, or what?
New construction would cost $370,000, and the city already owns land well-suited for the purpose. There is enough surplus cash to build it without draining needed reserves or incurring any debt whatsoever.
Nearly 25 percent of the city’s voters petitioned last week to demand a referendum on the bond. It’s anyone’s guess what the council will do when they meet on June 25.