County endorses building site in downtown CloquetMembers of the Carlton County Board unanimously approved locations for both a proposed Health and Human Services building as well as a new Government Center to house the county’s land records departments.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Members of the Carlton County Board unanimously approved locations for both a proposed Health and Human Services building as well as a new Government Center to house the county’s land records departments.
Acting at its adjourned session on Monday, the board reviewed the recommendations of the Building Site Selection Committee as outlined by representatives of Wold Architects and Engineers of Duluth.
Acting on a motion by Commissioner Dick Brenner and seconded by Commissioner Marvin Bodie, the board approved the selection of a site in downtown Cloquet for a new Health and Human Services building and a site in rural Carlton for the proposed Government Services/Land Records Center.
If constructed as recommended, the Health and Human Services building would be located adjacent to the existing Cloquet City Hall building along Cloquet Avenue, with visitor parking to the rear and a public parking facility to be located roughly to the north and west from the building, at the location of the current Health and Human Services building, which would be demolished. Some partial street closures or realignments in that vicinity may be necessary, but talks with the city of Cloquet will determine how best to proceed with that at a later date.
The proposed Government Services/Land Records Center would, if built, be located adjacent to the current Carlton County Transportation Department building just off Old Highway 61 in Carlton.
The approval is only in principle at this stage, emphasized Board Chair Ted Pihlman, and merely empowers Wold to proceed with the design work for the buildings to the point where more accurate cost estimates will become available.
“We will proceed along a dual track at this time and then, based on what kind of costs we come up with, decide whether to build one of the buildings, both of them or neither of them,” stated Pihlman.
The county hopes to be able to make a final determination on the projects at its Dec. 9 meeting, in time to levy for the bond debt if they decided to proceed.
After several sites for the buildings were originally proposed in Cloquet and Carlton and subsequent studies conducted, the initial recommendations of the committee spawned feedback from both the city of Cloquet and the RE-cor Development organization, stating additional input was needed on their respective site offerings and indicating they wanted to meet further with the Building Site Selection Committee.
“After receiving word that the city of Cloquet and RE-cor wanted to meet further,” explained Site Selection Committee Chair Mike Stafford, “we were able to meet with Cloquet officials and develop additional ideas on how the county might proceed [with the site there]. Those discussions led to almost an entirely different concept that has synergies not only with each other but other players as well. We found that there are a number of things that can grow out of this, including ways to bring the costs of the project down.”
Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger, who was in attendance at Monday’s Carlton County Board meeting, said though no formal action has yet been taken, he has talked with each of the Cloquet City Council members individually regarding the latest site proposal.
“What I’m hearing from them is support,” he said.
He indicated he is planning to bring the latest proposal to the council at their Tuesday, Oct. 7, meeting for discussion and pass “a more formal action of support at that time,” he concluded.
Stafford indicated RE-cor, who is developing a business site along I-35 south of Cloquet, has not come back with additional information for the committee so that site was eliminated from consideration.