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Fitness center expansion a go

By Staff | May 12, 2013

There will soon be an expansion built on to the Faribault County Fitness Center, and a whole lot of street construction in Blue Earth this summer, thanks to action taken last Monday night by the City Council.

The council authorized a $625,000 addition to the city-owned fitness center, then also said yes to bids for this summer’s planned street/sewer/water projects that will total nearly $1.4 million.

Then they also said yes to hiring an architect for a possible new city public works building that could top $450,000.

Total price tag on all those projects could be close to $2.5 million.

Here is how it all happened last Monday night.

After some debate, the council voted 6-1 to proceed with a proposal from the fitness center board to add a 71-foot by 72-foot extension onto the east side of the current building. That expansion will include a new weight/exercise area, office and locker rooms.

The lone dissenting vote was from councilman Dan Brod. He had earlier questioned whether the city should be talking with the school about a joint fitness center venture.

The council next voted to proceed with a design/build plan for the fitness center project and not use an architect.

Fitness center board members said they felt the building would be simple enough in design that the cost of an architect would not be needed.

The question of exactly what method should be used for paying for the building was tabled. But, the proposal is to use city bonds paid back by fitness center profits.

“I was not totally in favor of this proposal,” councilman Glenn Gaylord told the fitness center board members present Monday night. “But you have changed my mind. If you are sure that the profits from the center will cover this cost, then I think it is a good deal.”

Fitness Center director Michele Hall says they have more than 300 members, and she says the trend is expected to continue with membership growth.

Board member David Lein agreed.

“The fact that insurance companies reimburse the memberships cost is not going away,” he says. “This trend towards fitness and anti-obesity is going to continue.”

Board member Joe Fering also agreed.

“If it was not financially feasible, we would not be proposing it,” he says. “The business model Michele has developed will support this product.”

Board members and Hall all said that the center needs to expand in order to grow.

The council had previously voted to proceed with several street/sewer/water projects this summer. Monday night, city engineer Wes Brown of Bolton and Menk reported that two bids had been received.

The low bid was from GM Contracting of Lake Crystal with a cost of $1,397,151.

“The engineer’s cost estimate was $1,431,541,” Brown told the council. “We propose the low bid be accepted.”

The council agreed.

Brown also submitted a contract for engineering costs for the projects that would total $160,000. It was also accepted by the council.

The work will include all of Highland Drive and one block of 11th Street and two blocks of 12th Street.

In the third item, the council agreed to allow city public works supervisor Jamison Holland to solicit bids from architect firms for developing plans for a new public works building.

“We looked at this in 2012,” Holland says. “We need to work on this since OSHA raised issues with our current building in 2011.”

He said that the building has lived out its life and doesn’t meet requirements anymore.

It was built in 1976 and has issues with the roof, space and interior use.

The current building is 50 feet by 80 feet, but the proposal is for one that is 50 by 100. The estimated cost is $450,000.