Council Chambers to get upgrade

Published 8:15 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

Upgrades are in the works for Albert Lea City Hall.

The City Council on Thursday authorized city staff to move forward with plans to replace the building’s roof with a white rubber roof, upgrade the wireless thermostat and install new lighting and occupancy sensors.

Dwaine Winkels

But what might be most noticeable is an update to the Council Chambers. Originally constructed in the 1960s as a courtroom, the space has not seen any major changes since then.

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Interim Albert Lea Fire Chief Dwaine Winkels said the costs for the improvements to the Council Chambers are estimated at about $57,000, with an Alliant Energy rebate for the lighting expected to be up to 50 percent of that cost.

Winkels said the payback on the improvements is expected to be about five years.

The plans call for removing the fixed chairs and railing through in-house labor, patching the carpet, upgrading the lighting, painting the ceiling white, and purchasing new moveable chairs, tables, window coverings and podium.

A new projector, computer and screen will also be installed.

Winkels said the control panel for the lights in the Council Chambers is broken and have incandescent 100-watt light bulbs, which are not energy-efficient.

The new lights will be T8 fluorescent bulbs with low wattage per bulb, which will bring energy savings, he said.

He noted the chairs and part of the old lighting may be able to be sold online to recoup some of the costs as well.

Aside from the long-term energy upgrades, Winkels said one of the benefits to the upgrades will be that the room will be able to be used as a meeting room and will have access to better equipment. The city’s main meeting room used to be on the second floor before the new children’s library was put in — though there are some smaller rooms on the first floor.

He said the upgrades have been part of a long-term plan of the city to be completed after the renovations to the library.


Other City Hall improvements

Mark Roche

Albert Lea Fire Capt. Mark Roche said the new roof is the top priority out of all of the improvements. Cost is estimated at $190,000.

The roof is planned to be a white rubber roof, which will reflect heat.

Roche said he would not be surprised if there were leaks in it this winter, and he hopes the project can be completed in spring.

The other improvements approved total about $77,000. The cost of upgrading to a wireless thermostat upgrade cost about $62,000 plus electrical for five years.

Winkels said LED lights will be installed on the outside overhangs of the building and at the outside entrances.

He expects major energy savings coming from this and from the installation of occupancy sensors in the atriums of City Hall, which will determine whether the lights should be on or at what level air conditioning and heat should be at.

“It’s good energy savings, long-term things that need to be done,” Winkels said. “Anything the city can do to save money long-term is a good deal.”

Roche and Winkels said several of these projects are also eligible for Alliant Energy rebates.

The council is slated to vote on authorizing a transfer from the general fund — which is ultimately a 2010 surplus — to the building services fund to cover the costs.

Price tag
Estimated cost breakdown of Council Chambers upgrades
• Removing fixed chairs and railing: in-house labor
• Patching carpet: $2,500
• Upgrading lighting: $14,633
• Painting ceiling white: $1,955
• Installing new chairs: $7,040
• Installing new tables: $5,160
• Installing new window covering: $2,352
• Installing new projector, computer and screen: $18,500
• Sales tax: $3,674
Total: $57,114