Council approves fire station bid, no action on Lincoln House

The Merrill Common Council Tuesday night approved a bid from Ellis Stone Construction of Stevens Point for construction of a new fire station. The council approved the base bid of $2,749,000 plus an alternate cost of $26,000.

Ellis Stone was the low bidder of nine bids the city received from general contractors. The base bid is for the construction of 18,750 square feet of office, living quarters, fire equipment, apparatus bays and support function areas.
The council also approved a site plan for the station, which will be built on the vacant lot across from the Merrill Post Office on East Second Street.
Following a closed session discussion by the Committee of the Whole, the council took no action on the disposition of the Lincoln House property at 120 S. Mill St. The city purchased the property in 2011 in hopes that a developer could be found to rehabilitate the structure.
Would-be developers were unsuccessful in securing government-assisted funding, without which the project was deemed to not be viable.
In February 2013, a water main break on the third floor caused extensive water damage. The city has received a $130,000 settlement offer from its insurance company in addition to the $56,000 paid by insurance for mitigation of the damage.
The city has placed exterior maintenance orders on the building, which would require a significant investment by the city to bring the building into compliance with city codes.
In a memo to council members, City Administrator David Johnson recommended that the city use the insurance money toward demolition of the Lincoln House. The city has received a ballpark estimate of $130,000 to demolish the building, Johnson said, and another $10-20,000 for asbestos abatement.
The city would also incur costs for relocating renters holding current leases, with the greatest cost being for the WJMT radio station.
The council also approved a site plan for a World War I memorial to be located at Cenotaph Park. The large bronze plaque was recently removed from the former American Legion building and is being refurbished for display next to the Cenotaph monument.
In other action, the council approved a conditional use permit for Boy Scout Troop 599 to operate its Haunted Sawmill at 700 Hendricks St.

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