Take a step back before deciding on new city hall

“A step back is required to fully vet out both options,” council member Paul Pitner said at last Monday’s city council meeting. “I want to get more detailed and up-to-date renovation costs associated with both buildings.”

Those buildings are the former Midwest Federal and Wells Fargo bank buildings downtown. Both are under consideration to be Minot’s next city hall as the existing city hall is deemed vastly too small – now and for the coming years.

There is, however, simply too much at stake financially to make a hasty decision.

As we reported, the ballpark cost of rehabilitation came to an estimated $18 million for the Midwest Federal building and just under $10 million for the Wells Fargo building.

That, mind you, doesn’t include purchase price.

So, yes to more information, Mr. Pitner. We, too, would like more detailed information, before citizens get stuck with a “zombie” building or one that might not even be suitable for a city hall.

It could turn out that neither building is affordable. Nor efficient.

Monday’s was a testy council meeting for sure.

Council members Shannon Straight and Josh Wolsky were undecided as was Pitner. They had sent a memo to other council members late Monday that sought answers to a number of questions concerning space needs, the possibility of co-locating public services and whether more input from residents is needed.

The mayor, for one, appeared to have his mind made up.

“We have two structures that are under consideration because they’re the only two that are available in downtown to utilize the HUD ($3.75 million). Which one is the more controlled, known entity? The answer, to me, is simple. That’s the Wells Fargo building,” said Shaun Sipma.

It perhaps is wishful thinking that the council members will agree 100 percent in the end. More investigation and the opinions of additional building experts will hopefully close some of the gap. It had better.

For if city council can’t get solidly behind one of these two identified choices, how can the citizens of Minot – whose building it will be – get excited about their “new” city hall?

Don’t be surprised if this can gets kicked down the road for the next city council to deal with.


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