September 20, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 38

Petersburg police station takes capital project top spot

The Petersburg police station is now the number one capital project for 2014. The Petersburg City Council revised and prioritized the Capital Improvement Projects list Monday evening during its regular meeting.

Several attendees at Monday’s meeting agreed the North Harbor and the police station were still the top projects for the list. These two projects were the top two on the list last year as well.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting there was some disagreement over which project should be listed as number one.

Local attorney, John Hoag listed several reasons to put the police station at the top.

“The building is unsafe for those that work there and could be unsafe for some of the inmates as well,” Hoag said. “The building is structurally unsound and the working conditions are pitiful for the officers and other personnel.”

Council Member Don Koenigs spoke in favor of the police station as well.

“The liability that is hanging over that building is bad for the city,” Koenigs said. “It is not a safe place and I would personally recommend that it be condemned.”

Koenigs also reminded the Council and the public that City Manager Stephen Giesbrecht had also ranked the police station as number one on his list.

The police station was second on the list last year and received $350,000 for design work but nothing for construction.

The North Harbor is also in disrepair, but the design work is nearly finished and the dredging is set to begin next August for this project. The North Harbor was number one on the list last year and received $3.5 million that brought the project’s total funding to $7 million, but cost estimates put the project at $8.7 million and some are hoping lawmakers will provide a grant to cover the shortage.

“I think we should complete the project that we have started,” Harbor Board Member and fisherman Jeff Pfundt said. “It would actually be nice to finish a project before we start a new one.”

Pfundt also explained that if a partial reconstruction on the Harbor were done it would forever be short on stalls.

Council Member John Jensen also spoke in favor of the North Harbor remaining number one on the list.

“We have a lot of people transiting that dock, and it’s virtually ready to go at any time,” Jensen stated. “I’m of the belief that once we start a project, let’s finish it.”

The Harbor Board and PND engineers have put in place a phased project plan to complete much of the work within the $7 million the City has on hand for the project. But, this plan will only allow for 87 stalls for now, which is 50 fewer than the original plan called for and 60 fewer than there are in the North Harbor now.

“This would mean, not only no room for new boats, but would relocate local fishermen that already have stalls there,” Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen said. “We will have to tell 15 of our business people and 15 boat owners that they no longer have a home in North Harbor. These boats would have to be relocated to South Harbor which would fill that facility to capacity.”

The City re-prioritizes this list every year for the legislature ranking its top projects.

The North Harbor, when listed at the top received funds. In 2010, when the fire hall claimed that top position it received full funding and the library project was listed number two that same year and received ¾ of the money needed for construction.

“When we send this list to the legislature, we are lobbying for everything on the list,” Council member Susan Flint said. “To me, they are both important, we need them both and we will fight for them both.”

The council members were split five to two on this issue with John and Mark Jensen being the opposition to this ranking.

It was a unanimous decision to add a couple of items to the list, which were an expansion of the Petersburg Children’s Center, and the upgrade to digital projection for the Northern Lights (Compass) Theater.

The remaining projects that comprise the top 19 are: the Rasmus Enge Bridge reconstruction, pump station 1 force main relocation, Haugen Drive collection system upgrade from 8th Street to Nordic Drive, S. Nordic collection system repairs, Petersburg Medical Center C-Arm and operating table, Petersburg Medical Center Long Term Care renovation and boiler replacement, Petersburg Schools Elementary School exterior wall renovation, Petersburg Schools district-wide boiler replacement, Scow Bay haul out and wash-down pad, Petersburg Children’s Center expansion, Clausen Memorial Museum design, plans and drawings, community gym remodel, cemetery columbarium, recycling equipment, municipal building rehabilitation, Compass Theater digital conversion and Harbor Development plan with rate study.

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