Breitung Town Board reviews options on future uses for township buildings

By soudan42

FEBRUARY 28, 2107 — The Breitung Town Board of Supervisors met tonight to review the potential conversion of the existing township buildings into new functionalities. The Town Hall, which was built in 1947, currently serves as the town hall, clerk and treasurer’s office, public works garage, firehall and offers leased space to the Soudan Post office. Next door, the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) surface building was built in 2000 and has been leased by the township to the University of Minnesota since that time. The university will end its lease in November of this year. The termination of that lease, combined with the township’s plans to build a new joint Tower-Soudan Fire Department, has the town board looking at the potential use for the space which will be vacated by the fire department and university. In January the township contacted DSGW Architects, a Virginia, Minn. firm to detail several options available to the township.

Erick Wedge, DSGW Architects, Virginia, Minn., made his presentation to the town board outlining two different proposals. Each option would increase the size of the town hall building to create a new entrance area and provide for expanded office space and a community center as well as update the post office and public bathrooms which would be Americans with Disability Act compliant. It is expected that the public works department would move to the MINOS surface building and that new quarters would be developed for the police department.

A lengthy conversation commenced between the town board and Wedge on the details of each proposal. He noted that he provided high-end and low-end cost numbers and that the final totals would be determined by the types of finish materials the township selected. Wedge also explained that annual snowfall totals have increased since the town hall was built and that its roof did not meet current standards.

The first option for the town hall would cost between $917,350 and 1.365 million dollars. The second proposal is expected to cost between $900,000 and 1.085 million dollars. The Minos building remodel is expected to cost between $225,000 and $286,00 for option one and between $292,000 and $368,000 for option two.

“A Third option would be to do nothing,” Chairman Tim Tomsich said. The town board acknowledged, however, that the existing 70-year-old building would soon need repairs. and that roof work was already imminent. “The cost to replace a flat roof would be around $12 per square foot Wedge explained to the board. He also noted that new commercial construction costs averaged around $200 per square foot and that the proposed remodeling would be the most economical choice.

The town board accepted the proposals and will place the decision before township residents at the annual town meeting on March 14. The architectural drawings and cost estimate details are available for review at the town hall.

The town board reviewed its attorney’s suggestions on the proposed Vermilion Trail joint powers agreement. Supervisor Greg Dostert reported that the trail committee had received the same concerns from each of the governmental entities which are considering becoming members of the board. “Instead of each township, city, or Bois Forte rewriting the agreement the Vermilion Trail Committee is looking at changing the agreement and then presenting the new agreement to everyone,” Dostert said.

Supervisor Charles Tekautz cautioned the township from becoming involved in another grant seeking board. “The more times we have Breitung Township asking for grants the less opportunity we may have to receive a grant for important things,” Tekautz said. His concern is valid and the township should consider all the consequences which might result from being a part of the trail joint powers board as Breitung already has its trails in place and has been a leader in recreational trail development. Other townships are playing catch-up.

Supervisor Dostert said that the Mckinley Park Campground and Vermilion Park Inn would be enhanced by having additional trails available to their customers.

The proposed annual membership fee for joining the joint powers board would be one dollar, per capita, and it is expected that joining would cost Breitung Township $580 based on the most recent census population of 580 people. The town board of supervisors will wait to receive further information on the necessary language changes to the agreement from the trail committee and will present the concept to residents at the annual town meeting for their consideration and seek direction from the people.

For years the township has participated in the Mesabi Trail development and Jason Chopp, an engineer with Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc., Virginia, Minn., informed the board that the final permits were in place and that construction would soon begin on the final connection between the existing trail and the new Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park trail. The new section will follow one of the old railroad grades through the state park and cross the Stuntz Bay Road before connecting to the existing trail along the old highway grade near the new park entrance east of town. The state park presented challenges because of the archeologicaly sensitive areas located within the park. The trail will be 10 feet wide, except in certain areas where it will only be eight feet wide, due to the archeological cultural resources which must be protected.

The town board authorized Public Works Director Dale Swanson to trade-in the township’s John Deere lawn tractor for a 2017 model at Five Seasons Sports in Eveleth. The new tractor is expected to cost $16,657, net, according to Swanson, with the township receiving a $10,0o0 trade-in value for the township’s present, seven-year-old tractor. The authorization to make the purchase is contingent upon Swanson’s approval of the new tractor.

The town board also authorized the Breitung Police Department to offer to sell the existing white Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle to the Virginia Police Department at a price of $16,500. Breitung will leave the cage and other items which cannot easily be removed, in the vehicle to the benefit of the Virginia department. The radios, printer and camera can be reused and will be removed to be used in the new Dodge Charger which is now ready for delivery. Deputy Police Chief Dan Nyland will meet with the Virginia Police Department to make the offer.

The town board acknowledged the receipt of an estimate for culvert replacement at the Junction Road and North Second Street. The estimated cost is $8,000. The culvert has been repaired many times and has met it usefulness according to Swanson. The town board approved the expense. Conrad Rones also appeared before the town board to voice his concerns with a culvert causing subsidence at the end of his driveway at 77 Main Street. It was decided to cover the area with gravel to make a smooth transition between Main Street and the driveway as a temporary fix. Permanent repairs will be considered following the spring thaw. The town board also acknowledged that other roads within the township were suffering winter damage.

The town board accepted the minutes of the fire department meeting and approved 2017 rules and training regulations under which the department operates. The town board also gave full approval to the following fire department slate of officers:

  • Fire Chief: Steve Burgess
  • Assistant Chief: Matt Tuchel
  • Training Officer: Brian Zak
  • Fire Captain: Trevor Banks
  • Fire President: Matt Lenci
  • Fire Vice President: Ross Swanson
  • Secretary: Doug Carter
  • Treasurer: Matt Tomsich

Following the conclusion of all business which came before the town board, the town board commenced the Annual Board of Audit to assure that the township’s accounting was satisfactory. It was indeed found to be exemplary.

In other action, the town board:

• Tabled a request to lease the township’s fire department boat house

• Accepted the police department and fire department monthly reports

• Set the Local Board of Review for April 19, from One o’clock until Two o’clock in the afternoon

• Determined that the annual Independence Day Community Picnic will be conducted on Sunday, July 2, from One o’clock until Four o’clock in the afternoon

• Choose to keep the township’s worker’s compensation deductible at $1,000 and approved paying the annual premium of $13,659

• Learned of the ongoing negotiations towards a new police service contract with the City of Tower

• Received updates on the Minnesota Highway 169 construction project to be implemented East of Soudan

• Set March 14, at 8:30 in the evening, as the date and time of the Annual Township meeting; the township reorganization and regular meeting is set at Six o’clock in the evening; the police commission meeting is to be held on March 21

• Set a proposed 2017 levy of $489,660. This amount, the same as in 2015 and 2016, will be placed before residents of the township for their approval at the annual meeting

• Paid monthly bills totaling $83,934.47 and learned that the township’s accounts had a January 31 balance of $209,229.58

• Approved the minutes of the January 24 regular meeting of the town board of supervisors.