Start of county project still questionable

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

Although eight companies submitted their bids for initial construction of Freeborn County’s new criminal justice center, the start of the project could still be shaky due to a pending lawsuit by the Freeborn County Committee for Fairness (FCCF) and the delayed condemnation process for part of the site.

The county has a maximum of 45 days to award the contract. A & P Construction, which contracted with the county to manage the project, will scrutinize the bids and the background of each company.

The lawsuit hindering the sale of bonds needs to be resolved before the 45-day period, because the payment for the construction is usually divided into monthly installments.

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The county administration has already contracted with a private-practice lawyer specialized in the field, and will take an action shortly. Administrator Ron Gabrielsen said that the county would be likely to ask for an immediate dismissal of case, while seeking a way to recover the damage made by the FCCF litigation by filing a counter-lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the court hearing for the condemnation of the land next to the new structure scheduled last week was postponed because an individual who allegedly made a purchase contract from the current owner, George Dress, cannot be located. The county assessed the value of the 8,200 square-foot land at $27,300, while Dress contends the sale price to the individual was $100,000.

The county is calculating the incremental cost associated with the delay. Evensen & Dodge, a financial firm administrating the bond sale, said the interest rate has been rising in the market and a 0.25 percent rise will result in a $815,000 loss to the county. The county is also concerned that the construction price is increasing by an average of 3.5 percent a year, and footing and foundation construction during the winter season adds more costs.