Council approves new bleachers at City Arena

Published 9:24 pm Monday, March 27, 2023

Both the Nystrom and Colstrup rinks at Albert Lea City Arena will soon have new bleachers after the City Council on Monday approved their replacement.

The project was in the city’s capital improvement plan for 2023 and 2024 — at $240,000 the first year for the south side of the Nystrom arena and $200,000 in 2024 for the Colstrup bleachers. The bleachers were previously replaced on the north side of the Nystrom arena.

Though city staff had budgeted for a combined $440,000 cost, the project came in about $140,000 less through a quote from Saafe LLC through the Cooperative Purchasing Connection to replace bleachers in both arenas this year. The $284,225 quote included demolition of the existing bleachers, the cost of the new bleachers and the installation of the new ones — $189,185 for the Nystrom Arena and $95,040 for the Colstrup Arena. An additional $15,000 may need to be spent for other miscellaneous costs and repairs, City Manager Ian Rigg said.

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The council approved spending the combined $300,000 for the project, which will be paid for during the city’s annual bonding and repaid with tax levy funds over 10 years.

Rigg and Albert Lea Mayor Rich Murray emphasized the bleachers were part of the city’s capital improvement plan, which contains projects and priorities for five years at a time. City staff and the council look at many factors when they consider which projects to do each year, including what the impact will be and how the projects will be paid for, Rigg said. They try to find a balance in the total amount spent and the impact on the levy.

While the plan is in place for ongoing maintenance of city buildings and new vehicles, sometimes things arise that can’t be predicted, too, Murray said.

Sixth Ward Councilor Brian Anderson said he had not been to the arena for a few years and went out in the last few days to get a closer look. He spoke of the poor condition of the bleachers and said he had heard concerns about safety, too.

Cathy Malakowsky, director of community engagement and enrichment for the city, who oversees the Recreation Department, said in the council’s work session ahead of the meeting that the arena is the city’s most used facility with 35,000 visitors a year.

She said the bleachers that will be replaced are original from 1976 and don’t meet code or requirements through the American Disability Act.

The arena had a new roof installed last year for about $470,000, and some other projects will need to be addressed in the near future as well, she said.

In other action, the council:

• Accepted the low bid of $496,000 submitted by Oyer Trucking of Hayward for biosolids removal from the storage tanks at the city’s wastewater treatment plant for 2023 and 2024. The material will be applied on approved land nearby.

The bid was $266,000 more than the previous two-year contract.

• Approved Broadway Ridge Renewal Grant funding for Carter Nelson of C&H Holdings LLC for work done at 214 S. Washington. Nelson submitted costs of about $24,460 for foundation shoring and masonry repair. He previously had been reimbursed about $25,540 for other work done.

With the second reimbursement, he will have met the maximum grant of $50,000 for any one building over a five-year span.

• Approved a donation of scoreboards for Snyder Fields from the Albert Lea Youth Baseball Association and Lou-Rich. The signs were designed and built by Lou-Rich, with the association paying the cost.

• Witnessed the oath of office for Officer Kody Needham with the Police Department. Needham had previously worked for the city for about a year in 2020 and 2021, and is now returning.

• Declared Cinco de Mayo as a community festival.

• Appointed Sharon Gardner to the Senior Center Board.

• Ordered advertisement of bids for this year’s state aid street overlay project. The project includes the bituminous mill and overlay of portions of Clark Street, Washington Avenue, Newton Avenue and Bridge Avenue, as well as various curb, gutter and sidewalk replacement.