County asks Cloquet to reconsider building location for health and human servicesAlthough Cloquet city councilors fought and won the battle to build the new Carlton County Community Services Center next to city hall, it's not likely to go there after all.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Although Cloquet city councilors fought and won the battle to build the new Carlton County Community Services Center next to city hall, it's not likely to go there after all.
Because of challenging issues regarding a lack of parking, green space, utility relocation and the potential negative impact on existing businesses, Carlton County officials asked city councilors to reconsider two alternative locations at Tuesday's regular meeting.
One alternative would see the building constructed along Avenue B between 11th and 13th streets, where the current county human services facility sits. That option would involve acquiring and demolishing the Golden Token gas station and Tranquility Spa and Cubby Hole Gifts, which could cost an estimated $76,000, plus $65,000 for utility work.
The other option would cost more but would place the facility along Cloquet Avenue between 11th and 12th streets with parking behind it. The businesses along that stretch of Cloquet Avenue could cost approximately $380,000 to acquire the Royal Building, where Curves is located, as well as Payday Loans and the cycling store.
The city had only talked with one of the business owners as of the meeting, so Fritsinger cautioned that the costs were preliminary and only based on Carlton County assessor information.
"The county is looking to the council for support for either of these two sites," Fritsinger said. "And the county requests that the city look at the acquisition issues with no cost to the county."
Councilors were somewhat split on which option they preferred. Deb Hill, Erik Blesener, David Bjerkness and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren preferred the Cloquet Avenue plan.
"I think [the Cloquet Avenue plan] would go furthest for long-term community vision for downtown," Bjerkness said. "In the long run, it would do more for community redevelopment."
Councilors Barb Wyman and Herb Johnson preferred the plan on Avenue B.
"The option [along Avenue B] lowers costs for the city and allows for local businesses to stay open on Cloquet Avenue," Wyman said. "It would also allow for expansion on the building itself if need be in the future."
Council member Neil Nemmers said he preferred the Cloquet Avenue plan, but didn't want to choose it until there were more specific costs associated with it.
Councilors were not required to take a formal vote, and Fritsinger said understanding the current thoughts of the council would be enough to help him work with the county on the next steps.
"We'll be back to the council with specifics," he told them.
County officials still plan to break ground on the new facility this fall, Fritsinger added.
The new building is slated to house not only Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, but the income maintenance, veterans’ services, motor vehicles, information services, and child support departments as well as the Workforce Center and WIC Clinic.