Purchase agreements expected mid-November for fire station properties

Published 9:45 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

The city of Albert Lea plans to have purchase agreements by mid-November with property owners affected by the city’s decision to build its new fire station east of the Freeborn County Law Enforcement Center.

The properties to be moved or demolished include ones owned by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services at 213 and 217 E. Pearl St., and 417 and 517 S. Newton Ave.; an owner-occupied home at 415. S. Newton Ave.; rental properties at 406, 408, 410 and 412 E. Elizabeth St., 411 S. Newton Ave. and at least a portion of 220 E. College St.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said negotiations are still confidential, and he expects the agreement and project bids to come before the Albert Lea City Council during its Nov. 13 meeting.

Cost estimates on the properties have not been released.

Prior to the vote, the council debated placing the station there or at Blazing Star Landing.

Adams said last month the facility’s planned location “is one of the key variables that we looked at in terms of the benefit of this particular site.”

He said though support from owners in selling the properties varied, everyone who talked to him said they would sell the property.

The 28,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost more than $9 million. As of last month, an estimated $6.5 million of project funding could come from the city’s fire pension fund, with $1 million coming from the police pension fund for the facility’s emergency operations center and training and fitness space.

There is expected to be $100,000 in funding from the fire fund interest, and $150,000 of project funding is expected from building services for capital furnishings.

An estimated $200,000 of project funding could come from equipment certificates and $500,000 from Freeborn County and other sources for the emergency operations center, training and fitness.

Additional project funding could include $100,000 from the township property sale, $100,000 from the sewer fund and $427,000 from the city’s capital improvement fund.

Adams said $422,500 had been spent to date.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said though officials preferred property owners not have to move because of the project, the council realized placing the fire station east of the Government Center was the best option. He promised to ensure building owners receive the best possible offer and are able to find other housing.

Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson, who said he voted against placing the fire station east of the Government Center because it would force building owners to move, said though he doesn’t want to see them have to move, he hopes they receive fair offers and find new places to live.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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