It’s official: Princeton will be constructing a public safety building that will be the new home of the city’s police and fire departments.
The City Council approved the measure March 14 on a 4-1 vote, which followed a lengthy discussion of whether the structure should include a fifth parking bay at an additional cost of $90,000. Councilman Jules Zimmer, a retired law enforcement officer, cast the dissenting vote on the motion to build, made by Councilman Thom Walker.
Minutes later, the council signed contracts with construction manager Greystone Construction of Shakopee and project architect David Linner. Contract terms were unavailable.
Greystone and the city hope to complete structural aspects of the building this year. Princeton Fire Chief Jim Roxbury lobbied for the fifth bay, explaining that it will hold a number of trailers that the fire department wants in a heated building. Some of the cargo in the trailers is required in case there should ever be a radioactive event at the Monticello nuclear plant. The city is designated as the relocation/decontamination center for evacuees from Monticello in that event, and the fire department here would lead in that work.
Roxbury added that by constructing a fifth bay in the building, it could be that Homeland Security will see that the structure will have enough space for the relocation/decontamination work and there won’t be a need to use the high school for that. Right now the high school is the location for that mission. Roxbury also told the council that if the fifth bay isn’t included, the department will later be seeking to build a stand-alone storage building for the trailers. The cost of the fifth bay would not be that much more than the free-standing building, Roxbury said.
Walker asked Zimmer why he voted with the rest of the council to approve the Greystone and Linner contracts when Zimmer had voted minutes before against the first set of bids to set the project in motion.
Zimmer answered that he has never been against the public safety building being built, but was uneasy with adding on the fifth bay.
Police Chief Brian Payne said that he if he lived in the city of Princeton, he would not support spending $90,000 on a bay to house trailers. The entire cost of the public safety building is estimated to be $2.1 million and will be funded by profits from the city’s municipal liquor store. The fire department will contribute $130,000 it has raised over the years to the cost.
Walker cast the motion to get the building started, but not before expressing unease with the city not being given all the costs associated with the project – including figures for the electronic communications system the structure will need.
“When you start on a building project and you don’t have all the answers, it will immediately become more expensive,” Walker said.
Next bid package
A second and final bid package will have to be approved as early as the last week of April. Those bids will cover all the remaining work needed to complete the building, including earthwork, paving, concrete work, roof, interior finishing, electrical, mechanical, utilities, fire sprinklers and cabinets and their hardware.