Unexpectedly, city offices moved upstairs; summer meetings moved to fire hall because of construction interference

Police Chief Jeff Stadum, city administrator Don Solga and office staffer Susan Strand, now officed in the unfinished, un-air conditioned upper level of city hall.
The council voted to install temporary air conditioning units because of the unexpected relocation.
Also, public city meetings will be re-scheduled to the Pelican fire hall while the lower level meeting room is off limits.

The air is stale upstairs at Pelican Rapids City Hall.

And stale is the attitude of some city council members, over a renovation project that has been years in the making, and has encountered yet another snag.

The short story: Renovations, including extensive air-handling upgrades, have forced city offices to the unfinished upstairs–facing potentially a summer without air conditioning. To satisfy not only the comfort of employees, but also the impact of stuffy air on equipment such as copiers, computers and technology, the council voted to install temporary air conditioning units.

The cost for a temporary fix: Up to $20,000.

The longer story: Council members, some of whom have been skeptical, and indeed, opposed to aspects of the city hall renovations, had yet another reason to gripe.

“You know how I feel about this waste of money project,” said Councilman Steve Strand, who has been opposed to investing further in the half-century-old building.

“It seems like we’re always behind the 8 ball,” said Councilman Kevin Ballard, shaking his head.

When the $600,000 project was approved, city officials assumed that the lower level would not be disrupted, and business could continue to be conducted as usual in the lower level.

As it turned out, the contractors needed to essentially “evacuate” the lower level to complete the installations and renovations.

The result:
• Temporary offices were established upstairs, and the public is now alerted that those needing to visit city hall should enter on the north, public entrance side of the complex.

• City council meetings, for at least June and July, will be rescheduled to the Pelican Rapids Fire Hall meeting rooms. These will include the June 11 planning commission meeting, and the June 12 city council meeting–both of which could be well-attended, because of a controversial food vendor ordinance discussion.

Begrudgingly, the council voted to approve an expense of up to $20,000 for temporary air conditioning units to service the temporary upper office level.

Public works superintendent Brian Olson said that the $20,000 will not be a total loss. He said he was confident the city could recover most of the cost by selling the nearly-new units, and he further indicated that he already knew of a couple prospects for the units in the area.

Also, there are government surplus equipment sites that could generate prospects, it was noted at the meeting.