It’s a price tag higher than estimated and the project has been pushed back longer than hoped, but bids have now been accepted to allow for the old First National Bank building to be remodeled into the new Wadena Library.

With bids accepted, demolition work began Monday, Sept. 20.

The Wadena City Council approved the low bids for work coming in at a cost of $1,714,107. If you include architect and engineer fees, asbestos removal, new furniture, moving expenses and other costs associated with making the space into a library, the total cost is at $2,666,737.

The council approved the original contracted amount plus one alternate, which adds a new ceiling to the old building. Council members and staff agreed, upon further discussion and a previous site tour, that updating the building without replacing the old ceiling would not give the space the modernized look they were seeking. Replacing the old ceiling also means new, more efficient lighting throughout.

Staff with Contegrity Group, a construction management firm, went over the bids and shared that while many of the bids accepted were on par with estimates, some of the big ticket items were significantly higher. The concrete/masonry work was more than double the estimate at $283,900. Material prices increasing and a winter cost increase were to blame.

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General construction costs also more than doubled from $63,375, to $135,900. Glass, tile, window treatments, doors and casework were on par. Major savings in plumbing, electrical, HVAC and security helped, but the actual bids were about $155,000 over the estimate.

Some of the largest bids approved include the following companies:

  • Rice Lake Construction Group (Deerwood): masonry/concrete

  • CoBuilt Construction Services LLC (Menahga): general construction

  • Thelen Heating and Roofing (Brainerd): roofing

  • United Glass Inc. (Minneapolis): Aluminum frame windows and glazing

  • R & H Drywall (Pierz): drywall

  • Superior Tile and Terrazzo (Forest Lake): tile

  • Arnquist Flooring (Alexandria): flooring

In another action by the council, they approved awarding the asbestos abatement removal to Titan Environmental of Forest Lake for $39,780. Their schedule shows they expect to begin removal of asbestos next week and continue through the end of September.

How to pay for it

The Friends of the Wadena Library, with the help of the Initiative Foundation, have raised about $1.2 million towards this project. While that’s a big chunk of the full amount, the city council has also authorized $2.3 million in general obligation capital improvement bonds, which should more than cover the cost of the estimated $2.6 million project. The five-year capital improvement plan was proposed this year, a public hearing was held June 8, 2021 and no petitions requesting a vote on the issue was received.

The bonds will be issued Oct. 13, 2021. Northland Securities, Inc., is the purchaser of the bonds and will act as the dissemination agent for the bonds. This is a 20-year bond. George Eilertson with Northland Securities said the city increased their rating to a AA- from an A+. He added that it's a great time to take on this project with interest rates at a historic low; this bond rate is at 1.88%.

Also in motion is a Local Option Sales Tax. The council approved a resolution accepting a special law that allows the sales and use tax in the city. The council determined it was the best interest of the City and its residents to approve this tax. Approving this resolution does not mean the tax is now active. There is still a long road to passage.

Mayor George Deiss said the project was approved by the Legislature. Now that it is approved by the council, it will go before the voters of the city of Wadena to approve or not during the November 2022 election. The city will plan to have informational meetings soon explaining how this money will be used. It must be used to pay for the library project. Once enough funds are raised, the tax would no longer be in effect.

If they take in more money than the payment amounts on the bond, then the bond gets paid off early. The council agreed that using a sales tax brings in a wider tax base than the bond, which will be paid for by city tax payers. As the library is used by a larger audience than just the city of Wadena, it made sense to tax a wider group of people. It being a regionally-significant project and a large sum being raised locally made the project score well with the Legislature, according to Deiss.

In other actions, the council approved by consent:

  • Minnesota Board of Firefighters Training and Education grants funds in the amount of $2,660, plus $205 per firefighter to be used towards training.

  • A one-day permit for on-sale liquor to Drastic Measures Brewing for their Oktoberfest event to be held Sept. 25.

In new business:

The council approved a resolution accepting the MnDOT Trunk Hwy 10 grant agreement for stormwater drainage improvements at the Wadena County Fairgrounds. The grant amount is $963,938.81, which is the full amount for the project’s estimated cost as of August 2021. The agreement states that the city will pay any additional amount which the cost exceeds and will return any amounts not spent on the project back to the Minnesota State Transportation Fund.

This project is being managed by the county, but the funding is going through the city as the property is within the city limits. The grant funds come from the Local Road Improvement Program and require no matching funds. The grant was applied for back in 2017.