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home : government : government May 24, 2016

9/20/2013 11:02:00 AM
County historical society eyes new location

by Paul Martin

Goodhue County Board approved starting work on two boring but necessary projects, and dreamed of one most exciting but very expensive project at their September 17 meeting.

The boring projects are new garages for Maintenance and for Public Works. Costs on the latter, a building of up to 60' by 220', will be kept down by using direct labor as much as possible. It will be a winter project for the County's Sentence to Serve crews.

The exciting project would see the Goodhue County Historical Society move from its present out-of-the-way home in the former Baptist Old People's Home at 1166 Oak Street to the landmark Citizens' Building on Red Wing's Historical Mall.

Some supporters of the Historical Society are deeply attached to its current home, with its own history of donations and support since 1969. However, visitors are a mere trickle, and many County residents, especially outside Red Wing, do not even know it is there. Board members believe it would have a much more active role in County life with a central location. The Citizens' Building is home to Goodhue County Social Services, but it needs extensive renovations. Plans call for all Health and Social Services staff to be housed under one roof within the next one to two years.

Renovation Cost is beyond County's Means

The Board has wrestled for several years with the cost of maintaining and upgrading the Citizens' Building. Since it is a listed building, and a landmark in town, it cannot be demolished or left to decay. Their hope is to find a new owner or tenant. A feasibility study has just been completed, and confirms that the Citizens Building would make an excellent home for the Historical Society. It would also be a home for exhibitions and meetings, and the top floor, which commands wide views of the town center, would make an excellent meeting or event space. The problem, as with every solution to the issue, is the cost. Building and "soft" costs - such as design work, new furniture and display cases, and moving expenses - are estimated at about $13 million.

Board Chair Dan Rechtzigel stated the obvious: "Goodhue County cannot bear that cost on its own. We would need as many partners as possible, private and public."

Rechtizgel reported that a recent meeting with Sen. Schmit and Rep. Kelly was very positive. "They were both very enthusiastic, and saw the top floor as a really great feature." The first goal will be to seek money from the State bonding bill, due in the 2014 legislative session, and the State Legacy Fund. "This is just the sort of project the Legacy Fund wants to back," said Rechtzigel, "a major project in which they can show people a real achievement. The key will be to get them on board with an initial modest request. We are not in any rush here." Financial and other support from the City, individuals, businesses and the community would also be critical.

Historical Society Need to be "On Board"

Commissioner Jim Bryant said, "We can't go much further unless we know the Historical Society is on board. We need to hear from their Committee." The Board agreed to seek that support before proceeding. But there was also a note of warning. "We support the Historical Society with a grant of $92,000 a year," said Rechtzigel. "We will have to discuss whether that is a good use of taxpayer money for as little use as it gets now."

Forfeited Land given

to Trail Board

The Board approved the public sale of 14 property parcels forfeited for non-payment of property taxes. Many are small "slivers" of land between two residences, which will be offered to the adjacent owners. One parcel lies next to the Cannon Valley Trail, and has serious soil erosion issues. The Trail Board was granted this parcel.

After recent adverse publicity concerning private use of public equipment in other authorities, the Board will review the County's rules about private use of County cell phones and other materials.

High Cost of Moving

a Gas Pipeline

Up to $970,000 will be spent on moving a major gas line in Cannon Falls. The 8" line is owned by Magellan, and needs to be buried much deeper where it runs under the area of the new Hwy 52 overpass, and under the new County Hwy 24. "If we don't pay for Magellan to move their gas line, we can't build the new road, and we can't provide access to the new Medical Center," said Public Works Director Greg Isakson.

Also approved was a contract with Roscoe Township to cover any overrun in costs on the new bridge on 147th Avenue. State bonding dollars are being used, because the bridge suffered flood damage in 2010. Work will start by the end of the month, and should be completed by the end of the year. The road will be closed during that period.

Work on the Warsaw Township bridge over the Little Cannon River on the Sogn Valley trail is expected to be completed by September 20. Bridge work on 100th Avenue in Leon Township is now complete. All other projects are finished for the summer, except for the new extension of Hwy 24, which will continue through the fall, and Hwy 53 near Red Wing, which is set for completion by September 28.

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