TRF City Council accepts $3.85 million bid for a new building

by April Scheinoha

    The Thief River Falls City Council has accepted the low bid for the construction of a new Electric Department building. At its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 16, the council awarded the project to Winkelman Building Company for $3.85 million. In a separate motion, the council approved the issuance of bonds for the project.
    The 30,000 square-foot building will be constructed on a city-owned parcel south of Westside Motors and adjacent to the Joint Use Facility. The Electric Department was formerly housed at the Municipal Service Center. The latter property was sold in May to Digi-Key for $1,368,000 to aid in its expansion plans.
    Bids ranged from $3.85 million to $4,255,550. Other bidders included T.F. Powers Construction Company, Gopher State Contractors, Structures Inc., Construction Engineers Inc. and ICS Inc. Community Services Director Mark Borseth said the engineer’s estimate was $4 million.
    Even though an Electric Department building is being constructed, additional storage will be needed and utilized at the current site of the water treatment ponds at the intersection of Pennington Avenue and Nora Street. The ponds are in the process of being moved to a city-owned property southeast of Challenger Elementary School. Streetlight poles and wood poles will be stored at the Pennington Avenue property, which is an unbuildable parcel.
    Currently, the Electric Department has an office at the former HDR Engineering building. Its equipment is stored at two rental properties, the former ITS Auto building, the former HDR Engineering building, the power plant and the site of the Streets/Sanitation Division. The city owns the latter four locations. Linemen work out of one of the rental properties owned by Darin Robson.
    The former Noper property wasn’t the first choice of city leaders. Initially, city staff were instructed to further investigate the Hydra Mac property and a property located behind Forsbergs Inc. An in-depth analysis and soil borings at both sites led the city to look elsewhere.
    The city’s Building Committee then met and chose the city property over the Marland Johnson property, which is outside of the city limits and located near the intersection of Highways 1 and 59.
    The council approved the issuance of Electric Revenue Bonds for the Electric Department building. The council plans to sell $3.95 million in Electric Revenue Bonds.
    The city staff will now work on preparing the offering document with George Eilertson from Northland Securities. It is expected that the council will consider the sale of the 20-year bonds in March.
    Eilertson said the entire building project is estimated to cost $4.9 million, which includes construction, the contingency and the cost of issuing the bonds. The bonds will be covered by electric rates, which were recently increased, and the sale of the building to Digi-Key.