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Luverne City Hall may relocate

LUVERNE -- Luverne City Council members voted Tuesday night to examine the feasibility of moving the town's City Hall to the former hospital and clinic building two blocks away.

John Call, Luverne City Administrator, said the idea was raised a couple of months ago, and they decided to bring it "out in the open" Tuesday night to get public reaction to the possible move.

City Hall has been a fixture on the corner of East Main and Cedar streets in Luverne for more than 30 years, occupying a building that was built in the late 1800s and served as a bank for many years.

Call said the building isn't ideal for several reasons -- and accessibility tops the list. Although an elevator was put in to allow physically disabled individuals to reach council chambers on the top floor, the building inspector's office that occupies the north half of the building is not as easily accessed by those with disabilities.

The current building also lacks available meeting room space, adequate storage for public documents and parking spaces for the patrons it serves, he added.

"Our present City Hall is ... maybe not the most modern," Call said.

It was Minnesota West Community and Technical College's interest in occupying a portion of Luverne's former hospital and clinic that spawned the idea among city leaders to consider moving into part of the now vacant 30,000-square-foot building.

"Number one, they want a partner over there," Call said. "In talking with Dr. (Ron) Wood, we can also have some advantages with (staffing) personnel."

Wood, who also spoke during Tuesday night's meeting, said plans are on pace to open a pair of classrooms and a student commons with computer kiosks as early as January. If for some reason those plans would be delayed, his hope is to offer interactive TV (ITV) courses for summer sessions in 2007.

"We're very excited about it," Wood said, adding that Minnesota West has already secured $70,000 to install technology in one of the classrooms for ITV programming.

The Minnesota West Luverne campus would occupy the west wing of the former hospital and clinic, with an option to use another portion of the building for a potential student dormitory in the future.

The City of Luverne, if it opts to relocate to the building, would occupy the east wing.

Council member Bob Kaczrowski said he likes the possibility of moving City Hall, if it is financially possible.

"I just think that building can be much more user-friendly than the current City Hall," Kaczrowski said. "It would be nice to do if it's feasible."

Call said their main concern, if the decision was made to move city hall offices, would be the vacant space it leaves behind on Main Street. To avoid being a part of the "empty building syndrome," he said the city's economic development office would work hard to find a new tenant.

"The downtown, right now, doesn't have a lot of empty space," Call said.

The council directed Call to look into feasibility options for a possible move, and report back to them at a later date. Call anticipated he would be ready to report on his findings within the next month or two.

As for creating a partnership between the city and Minnesota West, Wood said he is excited about the possibilities. For him, opening a campus in Luverne will hopefully bring more students from across the nearby South Dakota border.

"We really want to get into Sioux Falls -- to break the Sioux Falls market," Wood said. "If we get people to come over here, hopefully they'll think of living here."

In other action, the Council:

- Adopted a resolution for the sale of $1.5 million in general obligation bonds. Of that, $1 million will be used for the expansion of the Luverne Fire Hall, and the remaining $500,000 will go toward adaptive reuse of the former hospital and clinic building.

- Adopted a resolution accepting the bid of $987,400 from Design Craft of Luverne for the fire hall expansion project.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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