Council awards fire station bid, no action on Lincoln House
The Merrill Common Council last 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.
“Anytime you have a project that big and you get nine contractors to bid on it, that’s a good thing,” said Mayor Bill Bialecki.
Ellis Stone’s bid came in at less than the $3 million the city was expecting, Bialecki noted.
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. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Monday, April 22.
A project timeline calls for the Merrill Fire Department to move into the new facility in January of 2014.
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 has put out a request for proposals on demolition of the building. The council held off making a decision until they have a better idea of the cost of demolition, Bialecki said.
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 would also incur costs for relocating renters holding current leases, with the greatest cost being for the WJMT radio station. The building also has two residential tenants.
While demolition is currently being considered, Bialecki said he’s still glad the city chose to take ownership of the property.
“I’d rather try and fail than fail to try,” he said. “At least now we can control what happens to that site.”
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. The Haunted Sawmill will mark its third year in 2013.
The city has had concerns with the exterior appearance of the building and placed some stipulations on the conditional use permit. The city will require some maintenance, including replacement of broken windows, removal of a smoke stack and roof vent, tuckpointing and painting. The Boy Scout Troop does not own the building, but has agreed to participate in the required maintenance projects.