Crosslake: Council votes 3-2 to proceed with fire hall remodeling project

Since a mold issue arose while remodeling the former city hall building for fire hall use, the council has been at odds over whether to continue the renovation project or to tear the building down and build a new facility.

Crosslake City Hall.

After halting a building renovation project for two months after finding mold, the Crosslake City Council agreed on a split vote Thursday, Aug. 27, to continue renovating the former city hall and fire hall building in Crosslake for fire hall use.

Council members Dave Schrupp and John Andrews remained opposed, saying the city should tear down that building and construct a new fire hall that would cost more but was projected to last twice as long.

Mayor Dave Nevin has consistently said renovation should continue. Council member Aaron Herzog wanted more information, and after getting that information he voted to continue the renovation project. Council member Marcia Seibert-Volz, who was appointed to the council Aug. 13, also voted for the renovation.

Thus, the 3-2 vote means renovation work on the building on County Highway 66 will resume. Andy Pickar, of Hy-Tec Construction, said his company should be able to resume work in a couple of weeks.

Estimated cost to remodel the building at first totaled $1.7 million; however, the council acknowledged that cost will rise because of the mold issue. When asked several times to project new costs, Pickar said it’s not possible to determine those costs until workers continue the project and see what they find in the walls.


“It’s hard to put a price on something you don’t exactly know what you have to do to fix it,” he said.

The council unanimously agreed that Nevin, City Administrator Mike Lyonais and Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller could work together to approve new costs depending on what Hy-Tec encounters.

Schrupp was dumbfounded that the council wouldn’t put a cap on those costs.

Estimated cost to build a completely new facility totaled $3.6 million, though Schrupp has said a new building’s life is expected to be 50 years rather than an estimated 25 years for a remodeled building.

The city has invested about $125,000 in the remodel so far.

Environmental mold test

Greg Olson, with Braun Intertec, shared results of an air quality test his company conducted recently in the former city hall/fire hall building.

Fungal spores - or mold - were found in the building, with higher concentrations in the south half that formerly housed the city’s administration and police department. He said mold could be idle in the walls and not show up in air samplings with no disturbance by people or ventilation.

Before addressing the fungal spores, the source - likely a moisture problem - has to be found and fixed, he said. Remediation techniques can then be used to deal with the moisture, damage and fungal spores. Olson encouraged the council to have an experienced fungal firm do that work.


Pickar assured the council Hy-Tec could do the work.

“It helps that we’re renovating the entire space,” he said, noting they would address each area and make sure to clear the mold out of the whole area of the building.

Council decision

“We need a new fire house,” Andrews said, noting the calls he’s received all favored a new building.

Nevin said citizens on a building committee spent four months or more to develop a plan for the city hall/fire hall building and agreed renovation was the right choice.

“I think this whole thing - the mold, everything about it - has been blown out of proportion trying to build a new fire hall,” he said, noting he’s upset about the lost construction time.

“I think we should just get going. Get the thing done and know we're going to have some unforeseens,” he said.

Lohmiller said Nevin’s comments upset him.

“That mold is true. That fungus is true. It wasn’t airborne because no one was in there,” he said.


“I don’t want you to put a Band-Aid on the mold or we won’t have firefighters. Think about the future and not today,” Lohmiller said.

Schrupp said it was irresponsible to go forward without having a not-to-exceed number for unforeseen costs related to mold, and that money being spent to remodel the building is foolish.

“When things change like this, it’s OK to change your plans. You don’t have to plow ahead, he said, noting firefighters and others are leery about the building and situation.

Schrupp didn’t want a decision based on a construction schedule.

“I think we want to do this thing right. And I do think we want to do something that’s going to be around for years,” he said.

Herzog said he was not in favor of a new fire hall and had been pushed to the point where he was frustrated because the renovation should be well underway.

The council also gave Lohmiller approval to find a location to store fire trucks during construction.

In other business Thursday, Aug. 27, the council held its second budget workshop. The next budget meeting will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, with a goal to set the preliminary budget at the Monday, Sept. 14, regular council meeting.


The preliminary budget and general revenue tax levy must be set no later than Sept. 30, after which time the levy can be decreased but not increased.

The council plans a truth in taxation meeting and final levy certification during the regular meeting Monday, Dec. 14.

The council also met in closed session to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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