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Wells wants county to help

By Staff | Jul 17, 2015

During the Wells City Council meeting, councilwoman Whitney Harig inquired as to whether or not the county commissioners will pay for their portion of the demolition of the Frank Brothers Elevator, after she heard they voted against doing so.

County commissioner Bill Groskreutz was in attendance, and spoke for the commissioners while addressing the city council.

“I guess the main concern was the expense came in so much higher than what was originally estimated, almost double, and the discussion was why and a request was made that someone from the city to come and address that,” said Groskreutz.

According to city administrator Robin Leslie, all of the relevant information to the extra cost was shared in the bill she sent to the commissioners, along with the complete contract between Wells and Ulland Brothers Excavating.

“It was simply underestimated for the cost of the weight which Ulland Brothers hauled off the property, which also increased the cost of labor,” Leslie explained.

Two of the smaller buildings attached to the property were completely made out of wood, which, according to Leslie, made it three times heavier to haul away than originally estimated. Not only that, but there were containers of raw materials that were also extremely heavy and were not estimated to weigh so much.

“What really increased the price of the contract was it took twice as much labor and hauling by the subcontractors as estimated,” says Leslie. “I would suggest both the county and the city, if we are to do projects like this, actually do a bid and not do an estimate.”

She shared a bid, rather than an estimate, would give more concrete numbers and put the responsibility of staying in budget with the contractors.

“In the future, our plan is to not do things in this same fashion,” stated Groskreutz. “We always felt it was to the advantage to both the counties and the cities that the city would take the lead on these projects. After this one as well as the situation in Winnebago, the feeling is we would prefer to have the lead on them. I personally feel that it has been very beneficial in having cities that are willing to partner with us, because the state says it’s really the county’s responsibility.”

The City Council approved unanimously to formally request the purchase of the Frank Brothers property from the state of Minnesota and authorized the estimated 12,000 square foot property to be put up for sale.

The city council also:

Appointed Tim Brenegan as the new Wells Police Chief and authorized the hiring process of a full-time police officer. Leslie stated that they would begin offering the position internally, and if no applications were filled out, they would offer the job outside of the department.

Discussed during the police staff report that any law breaking, fighting or other means of loitering is prohibited in city parks. This came after two minors were banned from the city pool and parks for the rest of the year after community members witnessed a drug deal.

“We have zero tolerance for minors fighting or breaking the law,” says Leslie, “and the repercussions of breaking the law is being removed from public parks for the rest of the summer.”

Examined the possibility of purchasing a new loader for the street department as their current unit’s transmission and hydraulic pump, along with other components of the unit, are in disrepair.

To repair the unit would cost upwards of $42,400 according to street foreman, Mike Pyzick. If the city would choose to trade in their unit, according to Pyzick’s numbers, they would only receive $35,000, thus making the repairs more expensive than the vehicle itself.

A new unit would cost around $143,000. The council decided to wait until August to look at exact bids for the loader.

Approved the plan and maintenance agreement for the new Lions Plaza coming to Wells. The outdoor plaza will have seating, rain garden, and small walkway and is located on city-owned parcels 117 and 123 on South Broadway Street in Wells.

Set the next City Council meeting for Monday, August 10 at 5 p.m. in the Wells community center.