Chippewa County looking at costly building needs
An analysis by Klein McCarthy Architects offers options to address Chippewa County facilities needs, which come with a price tag of more than $30 million.
MONTEVIDEO — Chippewa County could invest as much as $34.8 million to $43.3 million to address its immediate and long-term facilities needs, as the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners learned Tuesday.
“You have a lot to think about,” said Scott Fettig, president of Klein McCarthy Architects, after he and architect Erik Daniels, along with Pete Filippi of Contegrity Group construction management, presented a more-than-400-page report detailing the county’s building needs and recommendations to address them.
Fettig advised the commissioners that the analysis looked at immediate, near-term and long-term needs greater than 20 years, so there are different levels of urgency to some of the work.
Yet, without a doubt, the report made it clear that major spending decisions will be on the table.
“A little overwhelming,” said Commissioner Candice Jaenisch, in reference to her immediate response to the presentation.
“A lot of dollar signs,” added commissioner Matt Gilbertson.
The two most pressing issues are the needs of Family Services and the County Jail and Sheriff’s Office.
A 2018 study of the Family Services building and its condition led to a recommendation that the county completely remodel or replace the building, located at 719 N. Seventh St. in Montevideo.
Both options remain on the table.
The new analysis estimates it would cost an estimated $15.1 million to remodel and expand the existing Family Services building to address the needs.
A second option would be to move the Family Services operations to the courthouse, which would be expanded and remodeled in the process. That comes with an estimated cost of $11.4 million.
A third option for Family Services would be to construct a new facility on land owned by the county south of the Jennie-O Turkey Store processing facility and referred to as the “triangle.” A building could be constructed there to hold Family Services along with Countryside Public Health, Prairie Five Community Action Agency, and 6W Community Corrections at an estimated cost of $21 million.
If the county is prepared to address all of its needs, the architects recommended what they termed Option A. It involves moving Family Services to the courthouse, expanding the courthouse to the east, remodeling and rebuilding the 17-bed County Jail and Sheriff’s Office — providing a secure courtroom, as well as other improvements at an estimated cost of $34.8 million. That total includes the $11 million for the Family Services portion of the project.
The county could also pursue these improvements on the courthouse site, at 629 N. 11th St. in Montevideo, over a five-year time frame. In that case, the cost is estimated at $41 million due to an inflation factor.
Along with these needs, the analysis also recommends an estimated $5.7 million in improvements to the County Highway Department buildings in Montevideo, along with less costly improvements at the Highway Department sites in Clara City and Watson.
There was no discussion on whether the county remains interested in acquiring the MACCRAY West school facility in Maynard for office needs.
The city of Maynard has offered the facility to the county for $1. The elementary school has been closed by the district. The city has acquired the property from the MACCRAY School District, according to John Meyers, a consultant for the city of Maynard, and remains interested in offering the facility to Chippewa County.
Mayor Rick Groothuis said the community has more than $1.4 million in pledges raised for its renovation, and hopes to see more. The city is hoping to also obtain state bond monies for its renovation. The city is open to a variety of possible uses for the building if the county is not interested in it, Groothuis said.
After hearing the report from Klein McCarthy and Contegrity Group, the commissioners said they would like to meet again and review their options before deciding the next step.