Brainerd City Hall could be in for a face-lift.
At the Brainerd City Council's annual retreat Monday, City Administrator Dan Vogt told council members he was recommending a city space needs study. Vogt said the city council chambers has poor audio and visual capabilities, the engineering department is split up between two floors and the driver's training office is seeking more space.
Vogt said at the very least, he would like the council to discuss expansion at city hall, even the possibility of moving the city council chambers to another location.
"To me, this is a long-term potential project," Vogt said.
Council member Lucy Nesheim said the space needs study completed in 2000 for the $7 million bond issue referendum that was defeated by Brainerd voter's could be a good place to start with a future study. Council member Bob Olson said a key difference between the 2000 study and a future study was that the previous study included the creation of a expansive public safety building. He said space needs at city hall should be analyzed.
No action was taken at the retreat. Instead, the issue will be placed on the Personnel and Finance Committee's agenda.
In other retreat discussion, the council:
Adjourned shortly at 7:30 p.m. after two hours of discussion, which pleased several council members who didn't want a long retreat meeting. "Got to watch '24'," Olson said in reference to the popular television show. "God bless you, Bob Olson," Council President Kelly Bevans said after Olson made the motion to limit the retreat to two hours.
Discussed creating council liaisons for the Senior Center and Northland Arboretum boards, whose programs receive money from the city. Also discussed whether council liaisons currently on city boards, committees and commissions should have voting power. The issue will be considered at a future council meeting.
Talked about changing the start time for regular council meetings. Council meetings now start at 7:30 p.m. Vogt said Baxter, Crosby, Nisswa and Crosslake start at 7 p.m. Olson said the Crow Wing County Board meets during the day and would like to see council meetings start in the afternoon. The issue will be discussed at the Safety and Public Works Committee.
Learned the Department of Revenue would be sending out information to businesses with a 56401 ZIP code about the local option sales tax that will be collected starting April 1. Vogt also said the Department of Revenue would be holding an informational meeting for businesses in February or March.
Learned a closed session of the city council might be held in the future to discuss allegations of employee misconduct within the Brainerd Fire Department if the issue isn't resolved internally. While the matter can be discussed in closed session, Vogt said any sanctions taken must be in a session open to the public.
Learned the city was in the process of getting proposals for platting and design of the fourth phase of the city's industrial park, with $375,000 secured through the Department of Employment and Economic Development for the project.
Learned that Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. continues to work with a Twin Cities business about relocating to the city. The business, brought to the attention of the city by resident and former council candidate Glen Nygard, has not announced its name or intentions publicly.
Learned a special meeting of the Safety and Public Works Committee would be set to discuss future roads projects, including the $1 million feasibility study of a Mississippi River crossing north of Brainerd. For the study, $800,000 would be paid for through a federal grant and $200,000 in matching city funds. Mayor James Wallin said he has contacted county officials and state legislators about sharing the local matching cost. Olson said city money shouldn't be spent because, according to a story in the Dispatch, the Minnesota Department of Transportation doesn't believe traffic counts warrant a bridge. Wallin said MnDOT has indicated it could be a viable city and county project in the future. He also said that he was told that if the $800,000 grant wasn't used, the city shouldn't be asking for federal dollars in the future.
Was informed by Vogt that plans for the wastewater treatment facility expansion and upgrade were about 80 percent complete. He also noted that a long-term agreement with Baxter was close to being done and the environmental impact state review would be starting soon.
Was informed by Vogt that the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority would be coming back to the council with another plan to bail out the Brainerd Oaks housing development.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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