by Heidi L. Everett
Property sales, community center planning and staffing changes headlined St. Joseph City Council meetings in March.
At the March 15 meeting, council members entertained three options regarding the sale of the old police station and fire hall.
The police station, built in 1920, has been vacant since 2017.
“It’s not move-in ready,” said Therese Haffner, city administrator.
The old fire hall garage was built in 1985. Bad Habit Brewing Company currently leases the space for storage on a short-term lease set to end in June.
The water treatment plant located behind the fire hall was built in 1985 and is in operation.
Upgrades to the water treatment plant were made in 2017 with an anticipated life of approximately 20 years.
Three parties are interested in purchasing both the old police station and fire hall garage, Haffner said. The city would retain the water treatment plant.
The sale would require separation and rerouting of utilities, including water, sanitary sewer, gas and electric with the buyer covering the cost of plumbing, gas, and electrical upgrades and separation.
The city would need to complete sanitary sewer and water main work at a cost of $52,300 to $80,300 depending on building configurations.
The council approved selling both buildings and starting the proposal process for water and utilities.
Community center planning
At the March 1 City Council meeting, a motion was approved for staff to contact HMA Architects to submit a proposal for the St. Joseph Community Center and Jacob Wetterling Recreation Center project for review and approval.
The community center planning committee recommended hiring HMA Architects because they previously had been hired for the Government Center Campus. In 2015, the City of St. Joseph purchased the former Kennedy School property for a new city hall, police facility and a community center. HMA Architects had prepared the community and recreation center schematic and conceptual design package in 2017.
The Kennedy building was sold January 2021, reopening discussions on the community center plan.
The project will be funded by a $4-million bonding request from the state, and the City Council committed $6 million from half-cent regional-sales-tax dollars. Additional fundraising efforts will be forthcoming.
Committee members toured St. Cloud YMCA and Sartell Community Center and planned to meet again March 18.
A full-time police officer has been budgeted for July 2021. The position will be advertised for one month beginning April 1, 2021. The last budgeted full-time position was created in July 2017. The department also added an officer through a Department of Justice COPS grant in 2020, which is also now in the budget.
St. Joseph Recreation Director John Anderson announced his resignation in a letter March 3 effective March 31, 2021 to enjoy retirement with his wife.
The next city council meeting is April 5.