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Hotel Atwater renovation gets preliminary approval from council

ATWATER -- In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Atwater City Council agreed to seek bids to renovate the historic Hotel Atwater for use as a city hall, police department and library.

A final vote on whether or not to actually proceed with the project will depend on how expensive the bids are.

The project is estimated at $632,000. It'll cost another $36,000 if a sprinkler system is included in the bid.

The council has been divided on the project.

A community meeting Tuesday indicated residents were also split on whether the project should be undertaken, City Clerk Goldie Smith said.

Mayor Bruce Baker, who has not been shy about stating his support for new construction rather than renovating the 1903 hotel, was absent from Wednesday's meeting

He listened in on the discussion via telephone from Florida but could not vote.

Councilman Dale Tagtow, who has been leery about the project, said he would support seeking bids as long as the sprinkler system was included in the building specifications, Smith said.

The council voted to authorize Willmar architect Richard Engan to prepare the bid specs and advertise for bids, including the sprinkler system. The cost to prepare the specs is $35,000.

The project has been discussed for several years and has been awarded $130,000 in matching grant money from the Minnesota Historical Society.

The project could be eligible for additional grant money from the Legacy fund, which is funded by the three-eighths sales tax. Applications for that grant are due early next month.

Smith said the city is also in the process of applying for a $100,000 grant specifically for libraries that's available through the US Department of Agriculture's Rural Development.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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