The city of Anoka will spend nearly $40,000 to stabilize the historic stone house in the Rum River this fall.
The bid from Engineering and Construction Innovations, Inc. for $39,124 was approved Monday on a 3-1 vote. Mayor Phil Rice voted no and Councilmember Jeff Weaver was absent from the meeting.
The city has been discussing the future of the stone house, which is being eroded by the flow of the river, for years.
In the past culverts were installed to divert the water around the house, which was built by the Giddings family 90 years ago.
The stone house will be stabilized for now by reinforcing it with shotcrete, which will act as a mortar. The city will seek funding sources, including grants, to further restore the structure in the future.
This is the second time the city has gone through the solicitation process on the project. When the deadline passed last month no contractors had supplied quotes to do the job.
Public Services Director Greg Lee said staff went back and talked to a number of contractors, which resulted in one bid this time around.
The city had the option to accept the single bid or abandon the project until next year.
Lee recommended the council go ahead with the work this fall because of the fragile condition of the stone house as well as the chance to take advantage of low water levels on the Rum River.
“It might be difficult to pick up this project and do it in the spring,” Lee said.
Engineering and Construction Innovations’ resume includes the stabilization of Grandad Bluff in LaCrosse, Wis., as well as bluff and tunnel repair around the University of Minnesota.
Councilmember Mark Freeburg agreed the city should stabilize the stone house and he is also pushing to make sure the structure is well lit.
“We need to keep that visibility open for security sake,” said Freeburg. “That stone house has been a part of so many people’s lives, it’s just an icon.”
Anoka resident Ed Evans supported the city’s decision to spend $40,000 to stabilize the stone house.
The house is a great point of interest for people who go on the pontoon rides at Riverfest, he said.
“I can tell you if this little monument disappeared… it would really change people’s experience,” said Evans, a self-confessed fiscal conservative.
“The excitement that particular item bring out in people and conversation – people really do appreciate that.”
But Rice asked the council to think of the number of park projects that have either been left undone or cut short because there isn’t enough funding.
“I’m sure there were people looking forward to them,” said Rice.
According to Finance Director Lori Yager, the work will be paid for by park capital funds.
According to Rice, the $40,000 for the stabilization of the stone house is just the beginning of what it will cost to restore it completely.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org