by Dennis Dalman
By the end of 2014, there might be a community-resources center attached to the north end of Sartell City Hall.
But, whoa, first things first.
That is, at least, the hope of the members of the Sartell Community-Resource Facility Task Force. At the April 8 council meeting, one of the task force members, architect Dan Tideman, presented the plan to council members and city staff.
After checking a number of potential sites in Sartell, the task force strongly agreed on one point: the center should be built on city-hall property, preferably attached to the current city hall. They prefer that site for a number of reasons: central location, visibility, convenience, utilities hook-ups present.
The task force is recommending a 10,000 square-foot center be built. It should include a 2,000 square-foot all-purpose room, a senior-center, community meeting rooms, storage and (historical) display space and a serving kitchen. The large all-purpose room could be used as a library perhaps, sometime in the future – though probably not as a branch library of the area’s Great River Regional Library System.
The next step, Tideman said, is for the task force to come up with a conceptual design that would include how every amenity would fit inside the building and what the building would look like. The task force – and council members – totally agree any new building should match the unique red-brick architectural style of city hall.
The conceptual plan could be presented to the council as early as June. The actual designing of the building and the bidding could happen in January 2014, and construction could begin early next spring, Tideman noted.
Mayor Joe Perske said “the time is ripe” because of low interest rates and currently reasonable construction costs.
Sartell Financial Director Mary Degiovanni told the council that, although there is not enough cash flow to finance the center currently, the council could finance the project with a bond, which would be paid back by revenue from the half-cent sales tax. That has always been the intention of both the council and the public – to pay for a community center with sales-tax revenue. Indeed, that is a major reason voters gave for approving the half-cent regional sales tax to begin with about 12 years ago.
Sartell Administrator Patti Gartland cautioned the task force and council it should figure out how much a center would need as far as ongoing operating costs.
Council member Amy Braig-Lindstrom said plans should include plenty of storage space because city hall even now has a problem storing things.
Council member Steve Hennes asked Tideman if the building, as planned now, will be big enough. That question, Tideman said, is an ongoing concern of the task force.
Council member Sarah Jane Nicoll, who is a member of the task force, said the building plan should include consideration for extra city-hall office space, if need be.
Tideman agreed and said, depending on future growth, there is even the possibility many years down the road when the center and the attached city hall could become all of one or another: a city hall or a community center, in which case a new center or city hall could be constructed elsewhere.
The council agreed city staff should do a careful review of the spaces and needs within city hall. That way, planners and designers could be sure to coordinate the project for the mutual benefits of both and the possibility of sharing to save money.
Braig-Lindstrom suggested designers look into the possibility of creating the building with passive solar energy (windows) and actual solar panels for environmental reasons.
The council members unanimously approved the task force’s recommendation and gave a go-ahead for the force to proceed with conceptual designs for the center.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.