Coon Rapids orders bids for new building

Bids have been ordered by the Coon Rapids City Council for the construction of a vehicle storage building at the Coon Rapids City Center.

The council has approved plans and specifications for the project and set a $2.230 million budget.

The construction cost is estimated at $1,987,006, with $99,350 set aside for construction contingencies, $36,304 for add alternates (extra parking and heating upgrades), $90,250 for architect fee and $15,250 for testing.

Funding will not come from the property tax levy.

According to Steve Gatlin, public services director, most of the cost will be paid for from existing dollars in the facilities construction fund, $1.5 million.

The balance of $730,000 will be taken from closed bond funds, money left over after the city has paid off bonds that it has issued that would normally be transferred to the facilities construction fund.

The building will provide covered storage for police, fire, engineering, assessing and inspection vehicles which are now parked outdoors, Gatlin said.

“The facility will increase operational efficiency and protect the vehicles from the weather,” he said.

In December, the council was presented with two design alternatives for the new building, which will be constructed in the area behind the police department on the city center campus.

At that time, the council chose the building design option “based on required space needs to meet current requirements.”

The design by project architect Kodet Architects is for a 20,334 square-foot building with parking for 54 vehicles, according to Gatlin.

In addition, storage space is provided for police and fire needs, while a small wash bay and mechanical room with an air compressor has been included, Gatlin said.

The building will be located along the existing southeast corner of the current parking lot and one row of parking spaces will be eliminated, he said.

The council will consider a contract award at its April 17 meeting.

According to Gatlin, construction is scheduled to begin May 1 with completion Nov. 1.

There was no council discussion March 6 when the council unanimously approved the plans and specification, project budget and going out for bids.

But back in December when the council gave the green light for the architect to move forward with final design plans, Mayor Tim Howe said the building needed to be large enough to house all the city’s vehicles, many of which have expensive equipment – for example, lasers – which should not be exposed to cold winter temperatures.

There is also a productivity issue leaving the vehicles outside, especially in the winter months when time has to be taken to warm them up and get the frost/ice/snow off the windows, he said.

Councilmember Scott Schulte said it was “inappropriate” for the city to have its vehicles sitting outside.

The value of those vehicles and the equipment inside them far exceeds the cost of the storage facility, he said.

“There will be no property tax impact with this project,” Schulte said.

And Councilmember Jerry Koch said the city requires residents to have garages to house their vehicles, so why wouldn’t it do the same for city vehicles.

According to Councilmember Paul Johnson, who first brought the proposal to the council earlier this year, many city vehicles are “mobile offices,” given the equipment they have inside and should not be left outside, especially in the winter months.

“This is a wise expenditure,” said Johnson, who described himself as “passionate” about the need for the vehicle storage facility.

According to Gatlin, the annual cost to heat and light the building was estimated in the $36,000 to $44,000 range by the architect.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]