Carlton County closer to new site for human services buildingCarlton County officials are inching closer to recommending a site for the construction of a new health and human services building.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Carlton County officials are inching closer to recommending a site for the construction of a new health and human services building.
At a workshop Tuesday, associates from Wold Architects and Engineers in St. Paul presented a detailed comparison and recommendation involving five sites under consideration. Wold has been commissioned to design a new facility.
Based on the site evaluations, Wold Associates Lynae Schoen and John McNamara recommended the site next to the County Transportation Building in Carlton as their number one choice.
Schoen said their recommendation was born out of the site comparison data, cost and dialogue among their colleagues.
It's the least expensive option in terms of preparing the site for construction, according to their research. At roughly $372,000, the majority of the cost to ready the site would be adding a water well system. Otherwise, it is free of other costs including building demolition and site clean-up.
Sites also under consideration include two in Cloquet, with one downtown across from Cloquet City Hall on the 1300 block of Avenue C and the other at Tall Pine Lane and 14th Street, where Real Estate Corporation of America is planning to build a retail development.
The downtown location offers the least amount of acreage and is fairly landlocked, according to the analysis. Additionally, with the necessary purchase and demolition of buildings in the vicinity, as well as related cleanup, it would cost a projected $1 million to prepare the site for construction. However, the county human services building is already located at this site and utilities are all available. It is also the only site that would not use existing green space.
In May, Cloquet city council members voiced their support for this option as it is the place most clients already come to use the services and most are from Cloquet.
During the month of May, in fact, 607 people visited the human services building, with 450 of those people from Cloquet.
The second Cloquet site on Tall Pine Lane and 14th Street was Wold’s second choice and it would cost approximately $825,000 to develop the site. Carlton County Commissioner Ted Pihlman, however, had concerns about those costs.
“They [Re-COR] did not respond about who would pay for gravel loading and transport [necessary at that location] and that could be another $500,000,” he said.
The other two sites are in Carlton, along Highway 210, one where Ulland Brothers gravel pit is located and one across the highway on county-owned land.
The Ulland Brothers option was a favorite of County Commissioner Dick Brenner, who said the facility would be very visible to the public, which he said was of utmost importance.
“It’s really the ideal site,” he said.
The analysis also looked at grant funding possibilities for each site. Four major sources are available, according to Pat Oman, Carlton County economic development director. Those include Small City Development Grants, redevelopment grants, business development/infrastructure programs and Economic Development Authority public works and economic development facilities grants. The five locations, with the exception of RE-Cor, would qualify to apply for several grants. Loans and other sources of funding have not yet been researched.
The site selection comittee agreed that the matter would be put on a June 23 meeting agenda after more research and said a site may be chosen that day.
The new facility will house county offices including health and human services, county assessors, auditors, recorders, soil and water, along with other possible departments. In April, members of the Carlton County Board gave Wold the go-ahead to begin the schematic design phase of a plan for the new facility.
The design phase of the planning process will cost an estimated $120,000-$150,000, which the county hopes to later recapture through the issuance of public bonds.
McNamara also estimated the cost for building the facility to be $9 million.
Plans show the new building to be completed by 2010.
Associates at Wold earlier conducted a facilities assessment for the county and identified the human services building as a primary need of the county, in addition to various upgrades to the law enforcement center and the courthouse.