A variety of dance partners have stepped up as suitors to the Crow Wing County Highway Department plans its next move.
The county's recently approved building expansion plan is moving the department's garage space and offices out of downtown Brainerd. Four sites are on the short list for consideration as new homes.
* Brainerd Industrial Park.
* Baxter, near the Forestview Middle School.
* Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.
* Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
The city of Brainerd sent a letter suggesting the county consider the Brainerd Industrial Park.
Baxter has expressed interest in a shared facility, perhaps on land the city is acquiring south of Mapleton Road -- just south of the Forestview Middle School location.
Duane Blanck, highway engineer, told commissioners Tuesday Baxter was looking at purchasing Potlatch land near the middle school for a potential city government complex and wastewater treatment plant. Dennis Coryell, Baxter city administrator, confirmed the city is exploring a complex and has a preliminary site sketch.
Coryell said considerations include the lack of space in city hall, a desire to move the police department closer to Highway 371 and opportunities for cooperation with the school district.
The cooperative venture between the county and Crosslake for a shared facility turned out so well, it inspired those discussions in Baxter, Coryell said.
Baxter is studying space needs. Coryell said a move to a new complex could be considered part of a five-year plan. However, Coryell said he hopes they could begin sooner -- perhaps in stages -- beginning with public works.
The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport and the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center, near the intersection of highways 25 and 18 are also contenders. Commissioners expressed interest in both sites. They questioned what location may work best and looked at the potential for Unorganized Territory to diminish in terms of county oversight as Brainerd and Baxter expand or as residents of the area create their own municipality in response. With that in mind, Blanck and commissioners looked to the eastern side of Brainerd for more potential.
Blanck said the airport location is on land not useful for the airport itself and the highway department could act as an anchor for light industrial activity. The BRHSC has empty buildings, which were attractive to board members in terms of reusing the site. But there were concerns about waiting for the state to make a decision on the campus' future.
Opportunities and drawbacks were expected at each site. Blanck said he would look at each option in more detail and provide facts on the locations. Options for short-term storage were also discussed to hold the department's assets until a new location is ready. Blanck estimated a 10-acre site will offer space for current needs and anticipated growth.
Commissioner Gary Walters said the Baxter location could create the same obstacles as the highway department's current location as it becomes locked in by city development. He said Brainerd's industrial park option had costs for land and assessments that made it less attractive compared to other publicly owned property that is likely to come without a price tag.
More information is expected before the board by April 13.
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