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Lake Shore: Council opts to consider new city hall building on 3-2 vote

On a 3-2 vote, the Lake Shore City Council on Monday, June 26, decided to follow a committee's recommendation to take the next step in possibly building a new city hall at a new location.

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On a 3-2 vote, the Lake Shore City Council on Monday, June 26, decided to follow a committee's recommendation to take the next step in possibly building a new city hall at a new location.

Council members John Terwilliger and Wayne Anderson - who also sit on the City Hall Building Committee - were opposed.

Mayor Kevin Egan also sits on the building committee. Council members Doug Miller and Krista Knudsen do not, but both noted that while the council will further explore the idea of building a new city hall, it has not given the final authority to do so.

The next step will be to get more details, including building design, detailed pricing and location. After that information is collected, a hearing would be held to hear from the public.

Miller said he needs more information, so accepted the building committee recommendation to get more information and then hear from the public.

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The building committee has been working for two years to gather information and estimated pricing to renovate the current city hall or build a new building. The most recent options city engineer Widseth Smith Nolting presented included a basic remodel for an estimated $350,000; a more extensive remodel for an estimated $650,000; and building a new city hall at a different site for an estimated $1.2 million.

Anderson also has presented his own version of a remodeled city hall with a large addition, which WSN estimated to also cost $1.2 million. Anderson disputed WSN's numbers.

"If a decision is made to go with a new building, I think the decision was made based on bad numbers," he said, also saying, "I think we are misrepresenting that we have huge environmental issues."

Others, including former council member and current building committee member Earl North, took issue with that statement. North said he believes there is asbestos material in the building's duct system and there is radon in the building.

Terwilliger favored remodeling the current building.

"In my opinion, we could remodel this building. It was found to be a sound building," he said, noting issues were addressed, including radon levels and possible asbestos. "I think this could be remodeled to serve our needs for far less than the four options presented."

WSN advised against remodeling the existing building on the existing site. Dave Reese, city engineer with WSN, said the current site has limitations for future expansion.

"I think it comes down more to what do the residents and the council feel is the right decision for the level of service you want to provide for the community," Reese said, noting costs for the different options are not widely disparate, so he didn't know why the council would limit itself and put itself into a box by remodeling the current building.

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The current building likely has many years left, he said, but a new building would offer more for the city's future.

Egan said city hall was built in the 1960s when the town had 250 people and no one working full-time in the building.

"That is the question: How is the future best served by the decision we make today?" Egan said.

CSAH 77 improvement project

Tom's Backhoe Services, Inc. of Brainerd likely will be in charge of the County State Aid Highway 77 improvements in Lake Shore after submitting the responsible low bid of $5,323,114.

The Lake Shore City Council agreed to award the contract to that company Monday, June 26. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Cass County Board still must approve the bid and award the contract as well.

Late July is the tentative starting date for the project to reconstruct 3.8 miles of the road.

Bike trail

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The council agreed to support Fairview Township's Legacy Fund grant application and write a letter of support for the township for funding for a segment of trail to connect to other trails around Gull Lake.

The goal is to create a trail around Gull Lake from East Gull Lake through Fairview Township, Lake Shore and Nisswa, with the trail ultimately connecting to the Paul Bunyan Trail via the Nisswa Lake Park & Recreational Area at the Highway 371 tunnel.

Public safety

Police received approval to buy three rifles to be placed in each squad for a total cost of $4,215. In April, the department was awarded $8,283 in drug-related cash that was seized during a traffic stop and search warrant at a residence in Lake Shore. After splitting the proceeds between the state and Cass County Attorney's Office, the police department received $5,798.

That money will go toward purchase of the rifles from Rock River Arms along with accessories. Remaining money will be used to buy miscellaneous equipment for the department.

Police reported 209 incidents from May 22 to June 25, including 132 traffic-related incidents and 77 miscellaneous calls.

Traffic incidents included 93 warnings, 23 citations and one DWI arrest. Miscellaneous calls included 11 residential/business alarms, eight suspicious activity, three theft complaints, one fraud complaint, one property damage complaint, one trespassing complaint, one underage alcohol consumption, one possession marijuana and one missing person complaint. Police had five aquatic invasive species violations and assisted other agencies six times.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Learned the 2016 population estimate from the state demographer's office is 1,050 people and 475 households in Lake Shore. The 2015 population estimate was 1,039. Lake Shore remains the largest city in Cass County.

• Learned the city will likely start reviewing the 10-year-old comprehensive plan this fall.

• Agreed to rezone 40 acres north and south of Grand Avenue from agricultural and wooded residential to low density residential at the request of ETOC Co. Inc. (Grand View Lodge). The area is part of the plat named The Grand, which was done in 2006. Plans are for residential development on 3- to 5-acre lots.

• Learned the city issued 12 land-use permits in May for a total valuation of $1,124,180. Permits included three dwellings, seven accessory structures, six decks/porches/patios, three septic systems and three grading/shoreline alterations/steps.

So far this year the city has issued 19 permits for a valuation of $1,461,280.

• Agreed to pay $17,320 to Pratt's Affordable Excavating for lift station improvements.

• Learned of an application from Zorbaz on Gull for AOP Pyrotechnics to launch a fireworks display at dusk Tuesday, July 4.

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 nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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