Gold cross building approved

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Council signs off on facility after changes presented

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved Mayo Clinic’s plan for a more than $2 million facility for Albert Lea Gold Cross.

The measure passed on a 4-0 vote. Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. and Councilor Jason Howland abstained from voting due to their employment with Mayo Clinic.

Larry Baker

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Approval means Mayo Clinic will be able to build the planned 8,100-square-foot facility, which will be at 109 West Ave., on the campus of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea near Central Park. The facility would house office and training space, crew quarters and ambulance space.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams presented changes Gold Cross made to the planned facility, after safety concerns were made by local residents, and requests for a more scenic building were made at an Albert Lea Planning Commission meeting earlier this month. Additional bricks and revised garage doors have been added to plans to increase the facility’s aesthetics on the building’s east side. Light fixtures and brick with medallion work are planned on the south side of the facility.

Arborvitae is planned on the facility’s north and southeast sides.

“Those were upgrades made by Gold Cross at the request of the city, and city staff has been really pleased with those improvements,” Adams said.

Sixth Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks said before the vote that the project will benefit the community.

“I’m glad that this is probably going through, and I think it’s a good thing for Gold Cross, and I think it is a good thing for the community when we can provide a better emergency unit,” he said.

Kristofer Keltgen, Gold Cross regional manager of operations, thanked the council and city staff for their work in the process and pledged Gold Cross would be good stewards for the community.

“We intend to be here for a very long time, and hopefully this facility reflects our commitment to the community,” he said.

The cost of the facility is expected to be paid for by Mayo Clinic.

Keltgen has said the facility will increase efficiency by consolidating services currently spread in four locations, and he said the project is essential for the community’s health, safety and welfare and will address the growth in call volumes at Gold Cross and projected staff increases.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker said he was pleased Gold Cross listened to community concerns and adjusted its building plans.

After the vote, Keltgen said the move will benefit the community.

“Our position has been that this is a good improvement for the community,” he said. “(The project) certainly will help us to ensure excellent life-saving ambulance coverage now and well into the future. We are appreciative of the community’s support.”

In other action, the council:

Approved a modification to a development program and established a tax increment financing district to assist in the construction of a warehouse for Zumbro River Brand north of their building at 1215 Hershey St. More than 20 jobs are expected to be created by the expansion. The council also approved selling real estate to Albert Lea Port Authority to provide better access to the property planned for expansion and a lot reconfiguration through an administrative lot survey in association with the planned project.

Amended sidewalk assessment cost-share policies for new residential and commercial sidewalk installation and sidewalk reconstruction projects to 75 percent city assessments and 25 percent property owner assessments. The measure passed on a 6-1 vote. First Ward Councilor Rich Murray was the lone no vote. He said he did not support the measure because it would pass sidewalk costs to taxpayers across the city.

Passed a resolution supporting local decision-making authority in case of potential overreach by state and federal government.

Approved a $375 fine for East Side Liquor and a $175 fine for Fountain Warehouse Liquor for selling alcohol to individuals under the age of 21.

Awarded the contract for City Arena air conditioning and air monitoring equipment and installation to Austin-based Harty Mechanical Inc. for $141,514.

Waived the Blazing Star Trail joint powers board annual audit because the cities of Austin and Albert Lea have formed a joint powers authority entity for Blazing Star Trail.

Amended a March 13 motion to approve waiving building permit fees of up to $50,000 for commercial rehabilitation and up to $39,000 for rental rehabilitation in the target rehabilitation area in relation to the Small Cities Development Program.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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