Councilors approve new site for county buildingWith Carlton County officials chomping at the bit to break ground, Cloquet City Councilors on Tuesday unanimously approved building a new county services center away from Cloquet Avenue.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
With Carlton County officials chomping at the bit to break ground, Cloquet City Councilors on Tuesday unanimously approved building a new county services center away from Cloquet Avenue.
Due to numerous design challenges, the original site adjacent to Cloquet City Hall was nixed at the last regular meeting and county officials had asked the council to consider one of two other downtown locations. Although most councilors previously indicated that keeping the building along Cloquet Avenue was preferred, the costs involved caused them to choose a site along Avenue B instead.
The newly-approved site is on Avenue B between 11th and 13th streets, where the current county human services facility sits. To make it feasible, the city would need to purchase vacant land from current owners Tim Woodward and Wes Vork that has a total approximate market value of $76,000. That acquisition plus about $65,000 for utility work could make the total cost to the city $131,000.
The project would also encompass the Golden Token gas station, which the county has already purchased, and J & B Auction House. The county is charged with negotiating a deal with them, according to Brian Fritsinger, city administrator.
After doing more research, the other site just became cost prohibitive, Fritsinger said. That option was along Cloquet Avenue between 11th and 12th streets with parking in back. The cost to acquire the several businesses along that stretch of Cloquet Avenue plus utility work had a total estimated minimum cost of $520,000.
With the likelihood that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will soon slash funding to cities, councilors were concerned about spending that much money, Fritsinger said.
“[The Avenue B] plan might be a really fast solution,” said Council Member Neil Nemmers, who was referring to only acquiring vacant land as opposed to several businesses. The approved measure also gives authority to city officials to start the land purchase negotiations.
The new building is slated to house Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, income maintenance, veterans’ services, motor vehicles, information services, and child support departments as well as the Workforce Center and WIC Clinic.