TRF seeks bids for parks building

by April Scheinoha

    Parks maintenance employees will soon have a new home. At its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Thief River Falls City Council authorized seeking bids for the construction of a 4,900-square-foot addition for the Parks Division. The estimated $450,000 building will be an addition onto a heated Streets/Sanitation Division storage building.
    Acting Public Works Director Mark Borseth said the addition will house the offices of the parks supervisor and city forester. It will also have a vacant office that will eventually serve as the office for the streets/sanitation supervisor. A break room for parks maintenance and streets/sanitation employees, as well as restrooms, will also be constructed.
    Borseth said the city will design the basic floor plan with the contractor responsible for architectural fees. The city’s Electric Department will complete electrical work for the building.
    Bids will be opened Wednesday, Aug. 30. The council may consider awarding the low bid at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5. The contractor will receive an incentive if the building is completed by Dec. 29. Otherwise, the final completion date is April 30, 2018.
    The project will be covered with proceeds from the sale of the Municipal Service Center property and bonding.
    For the project to begin, the city also needs to vacate two feet of the Atlantic Avenue right-of-way due to city setback requirements. The Planning Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing about that proposal Tuesday, Aug. 8. The council is expected to consider that matter at its meeting a week later.
    The Parks Division was formerly housed at the Municipal Service Center, which has since been sold to Digi-Key for its expansion plans. Parks maintenance employees now work out of the former ITS Auto building, a city-owned building located across the street from the Fire Hall. Various city departments store equipment in the building, and there have been concerns about additional parks maintenance equipment fitting inside the building.
    In June, the council approved restructuring three city departments under a unified Public Works Department. Affected departments are the Streets/Sanitation Department, Community Services Department and part of the Parks and Recreation Department. Arena maintenance, park maintenance, the cemetery and forestry are under the Public Works Department. Arena administration/recreation is under the city administrator. At that time, the position of parks and recreation director was eliminated.
    The council approved and authorized promoting an internal candidate for the position of juvenile investigator with the Thief River Falls Police Department. Ginger Alby served as the juvenile investigator. She has since accepted a position with the Bismarck, N.D., Police Department. The council is expected to consider an internal candidate at a future council meeting.
    The next council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.