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New fire station proceeds to construction phase

WORTHINGTON -- The construction administration phase for Worthington's new fire station will commence following city council approval Monday night to accept the lowest bids.

The current estimate for the project is $4.8 million, but council members agreed to limit the budget to $4.55 million. According to Randy Engel of Buetow and Associates, St. Paul, the current estimate does not include soft cost.

"(Soft cost) is typically born by the owner and the owner can control those expenditures," Engel said.

Mayor Alan Oberloh was concerned over the amount being spent on testing for soil contamination.

"I see no reason why you keep digging down to China to find contaminants," Oberloh said. "I think if you dig long enough and hard enough, you're going to find what you want to find."

Despite his concern, Oberloh said that because the city is dealing with a reputable firm, he is hopeful the cost will be controlled.

In an unrelated matter, the council also approved plans and specifications of the future senior and community center facility, which will be located at the former Worthington Area YMCA site on 11th Street. The building will house, among other amenities, the senior dining program, a gymnasium, racquetball courts and a multipurpose area to accommodate approximately 64 people.

Alderman Mike Kuhle said that he would like to see more program options.

"I'm concerned we don't have a plan in place," Kuhle said.

"I don't disagree that the business model couldn't use some build-out," Alderman Mike Woll said. "Much of the work has been on the planning of the building."

The completed set of plans and specifications is available for viewing at the Community Development Department office at City Hall.

In other business, the council:

* Approved the first reading of a text amendment to the city's zoning ordinance. The amendment would allow land use of day care facilities in the "M-1" - Light Industrial zoning district.

* Approved a Worthington Rediscovered policy amendment. Worthington Rediscovered is an effort to "strengthen established residential areas through removal of substandard housing and reinvestment of redevelopment projects."

The amendment will provide financial assistance to parties interested in rehabilitation where the cost of rehabilitation exceeds 75 percent of the assessed value. The funds provided by the program will not exceed $30,000 or 40 percent of the renovation cost, whichever is achieved first.

* Approved a proposal from Peer Engineering as environmental professional services for the fire station construction.