The Crow Wing County Board agreed Tuesday to advertise for bids for services from architectural and construction management firms for the Highway 371 Safety Rest Area-Lakes Area Welcome Center in Fort Ripley Township.
The county is involved in a non-binding agreement with the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce, the DNR, the State Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to establish a framework that will assist partners in entering into a future agreement for the project.
Lisa Paxton of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce told the county board the center will be constructed between the median of the southbound and northbound lanes of Highway 371 at the junction of County State Aid Highway 27, six miles south of Brainerd and Baxter.
The center will be constructed with a rustic exterior and have a northwoods appeal by using natural materials.
Paxton said the center will house the chamber office. The chamber will be able to provide travel and tourist information, sell tickets and souvenirs and offer related services to promote area commerce.
Paxton said the current chamber offices in Brainerd and Crosslake will remain. The Brainerd office by the water tower on Washington Street will be the main administration office and will serve east to west traffic.
The DNR and the State Patrol also will use the center. The center will have a gift shop, a building maintenance office, restrooms and a picnic area.
Total cost of the project is estimated at $2 million to be paid by the state. The Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce will pay $350,000 for its portion of the center.
Paxton said construction will begin in 2003. The center is proposed to be open sometime before the fall of 2004 or when Highway 371 becomes a four-lane highway to Little Falls.
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