Depot remodeling would improve flow

It’s been more than 20 years since the last large remodeling project at the Thief River Falls City Hall. City leaders have determined that she’s due for another one. At its meeting Tuesday, April 18, the Thief River Falls City Council approved seeking bids to remodel the building.

The Building Committee hasn’t yet finalized its remodeling plans and was expected to meet this week. Various options have been discussed.

The majority of the remodeling would occur on the first floor of City Hall. In an interview with The Times, Public Works Director Travis Giffen said city leaders would like to separate the utilities billing and public works offices. Utilities billing would move closer to the lobby with a counter there so that customers wouldn’t need to walk through the majority of the first floor to get to billing. Individuals meeting with public works employees would use the south entrance, which is located closer to Third Street. City leaders also hope to achieve greater separation between employee work stations. Sound improvements, LED lighting and a sprinkler system have also been discussed.

If the council moved forward with all of those options, the project is estimated to cost $712,530. The entirety would be funded with American Rescue Plan funds.

City leaders plan to open bids in May. They plan to seek a base bid as well as alternate bids.

The council approved plans, specifications and calling for bids for the 2023 Street and Utilities Improvement Project.

The improvements include:
• Reconstructing the base and pavement on portions of Arnold, Duluth and Knight avenues between Ninth and 13th streets (not including 13th Street). That proposed improvement would also include resurfacing pavement on 10th, 11th and 12th streets between Arnold Avenue and Highway 32 (excluding avenue intersections)

• Completing the cul de sac at the Robson Court development

The project is expected to cost about $1.7 million with about $690,000 covered by special assessments and the remainder as general city costs.

City Council approved amending an earlier resolution to replace the angled steel roofing at the Carnegie Library. Due to weather conditions after the project was initially approved in September, Northwest Roofing was unable to start the project until now. Since that time, additional rain gutter damage has been observed and needs to be fixed.

At this point in time, city leaders have a better grasp of how the estimated $40,000 project will be funded. The project will be funded with money from the Carnegie Library Capital Fund Reserve ($11,500), roof, Carnegie Roof Capital Fund reserve ($2,100 raised by the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce’s sale of crocks) and American Rescue Plan ($26,400).

Some interior cosmetic repairs will also be completed. The Carnegie Library maintenance budget will cover those repairs.

The council approved an agreement with Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. to implement operational changes determined as part of the water modeling study. SEH will be paid an amount not to exceed $15,000.

Council member Mike Lorenson, who chairs the Utilities Committee, said the city has been monitoring several areas of the city due to major fluctuations in the water level. Affected customers will have decent water pressure and then the flow decreases substantially. While frustrating customers, such fluctuations are also hard on the water pipeline.

Mayor Brian Holmer said a water system pump will be installed to insure a more constant flow of water.

City Council approved replacing the oil separators and installing relief piping at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Travis Collins, VenuWorks executive director in Thief River Falls, said the oil separators in the ice plant are corroding from the inside and plugging up the ice plant. The equipment has a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

CIMCO provided a quote of $64,500 to replace the equipment. Additional contractual obligations related to the repairs and work, including the equipment, will total up to $100,000. The Arena Bond Fund will cover the project.

The council approved new hours at Falls Liquor, starting Monday, May 15. The liquor store will then close at 9 p.m. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the liquor store has closed at 8 p.m.

Council member Jason Aarestad, who sits on the Public Safety/Liquor Committee, said the committee doesn’t yet feel it’s feasible to close at 10 p.m.

Lorenson broached the idea of a rental permit to ensure rental properties are safe. Fire Chief Rick Beier continues to research the use of rental permits in other communities. Currently, if he comes across an issue, Beier has to write a fire code violation. He said he has written more fire code violations in the last five years than anyone has in the history of the fire department. Beier is expected to provide his research to the Public Safety/Liquor Committee in the future.

City Council received an update on the cleanup at 420 Davis Ave. N. Holmer noted the junk continues to accumulate day after day. “There’s got to be something we can do,” he said.

The property is owned by Amanda Prosise. Christian Paul Johnson was listed as a tenant, but the court record indicates that he isn’t a permanent resident on the property. The city gave them 10 days to clean up the property. They chose not to appeal, and the court granted a summary enforcement order in January, allowing the city to clean up the property this past winter. Sentence to Serve cleaned up the property. The city was given the opportunity to clean up the property once more before June 1 if snow impeded its efforts.

The city had asked to be able to clean up the property again if it becomes messy in the future. However, the court wasn’t willing to sign off on such enforcement without due process.

Assistant City Attorney Nathan Haase is working on a motion to bring the case back to the court.

Giffen and Rich Clauson with Widseth Smith Nolting were presented with plaques after the city’s 2022 construction project received an award. The project, which involved improvements to roadways on the northwest side of the city, received a merit award from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association. The award was presented for outstanding performance in bituminous surfacing. The project was determined to best in class in the category of county/municipal/rural new or reconstruct. Agassiz Asphalt LLC completed the project on behalf of the city. Widseth Smith Nolting, the city’s engineer, provided its services for the project.

The next council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. The council will meet as the Committee of the Whole immediately following the meeting.



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