Letter: Jackson County building a "treasure" to saveI would like to respond to Jackson County regarding the letter written by four commissioners and the separate letter by Commissioner Henkels.
By: Cheryl Brooks, Jackson, Worthington Daily Globe
I would like to respond to Jackson County regarding the letter written by four commissioners and the separate letter by Commissioner Henkels.
The commissioners stated in their letter that the May election told them the voters oppose borrowing and that it was unfortunate that was the only question asked and answered. If they really wanted to know, they would have asked a different question. The commissioners’ letter said, “Alliance representatives seem more focused on offering criticisms than solutions.” The JPA is three months old. In February, 2009 JPA Board member Gordon Willett drew up detailed plans and sent them to Chairman Roger Ringkob for reuse of the buildings. On July 13, 2010, Erin Hannifin-Berg of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) appeared before them on our behalf and informed them of the grants and low interest loans if it were on the National Registry of Historic Places. She also informed them of Gov. Pawlenty’s new tax cuts for renovations of public buildings and PAM’s many resources.
The commissioners’ letter also stated, “Over years of discussion about the building, no individual or organization, public or private, has stepped up to invest in redeveloping the building.” It is clear to Jackson residents that they want the land and its proximity to the courthouse. On July 27, only minutes before the board voted to demolish the building, David Kane of Kane & Johnson, an architect and volunteer with PAM, stated that he felt the amount that Wold Architects estimated to renovate the building was very high. He gave several reasons why he felt their design was costlier than necessary. Mr. Kane has won several state and national awards for his creative, reasonably priced renovations of historic buildings. A representative from Wold agreed the amounts were high and stated that because there was never any plan, he had to allow for any number of arrangements and that drove up the costs.
The commissioners have come up with a new plan to get their building.
Having a degree in accounting, this is how it adds up. The resolution is for $2.5 million, Bank Midwest is paying $110,000 for the Human Services building, the county will spend $10,000 to make the 1962 portion ADA-accessible for the Human Services Department in the interim. They will tear down 45,000 square feet and build 10,000 square feet.
The current Human Services building is 8,300 square feet. They will only gain up to 1,700 square feet. They will spend $2.4 million for approximately 1,700 square feet of space. Will 1,700 square feet really help very much? That is less than 20 percent more space. They plan on adding on two more times at a cost of $3 million each for a total of $8.5 million. Is this efficient use of taxpayer dollars? This plan is a waste of taxpayer money, expensive, against taxpayer wishes and environmentally irresponsible. Mr. Henkels stated that, “The voters have empowered its elected officials to make decisions.” The voters have elected you to embody them. Jackson County is well educated in a large part because of the 1938 building. We are educated enough that we can make decisions and tell our elected officials what to do.
Those of you who are still not sure, come to Jackson, tour the building and see for yourself that this building is a treasure that all of Jackson County should share. It has had no repairs and little maintenance since the county purchased it eight years ago. It was built to last and will outlast any building that the commissioners want to build. The next JPA meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Jackson American Legion.