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Rendering of building

Expansion blueprint proceeding for city hall, police department complex

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Plans for a new West Fargo Police Department and City Hall complex seem to be falling in line with expectations. Julie Rokke, representing the architectural firm YHR Partners, was on hand at Monday nights West Fargo City Commission meeting to provide a preview of the early design phase concept and information on where the project is headed.

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Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan also made a presentation outlining city hall and police department growth from past to present, addressing both building expansion and employee areas, dictated by city population increases and needs for service.

The last renovation was done in 2005 when the library moved to its new facility. At that time both the city hall and police departments were expanded to fill the vacated library space. At the present both areas are totally maxed out. "We presently have no room to add the staff necessary to serve our community," Reitan stated.

He said if the growth trend continues the way it has been, the estimated "build out" of the current geographical area of the city would result in 46,000 people achievable in 12.3 years.

He added there are currently 41 sworn officers, the projection once maximum growth is reached will be 80 officers.

The present schematic design shows a single level 29,500 square foot addition to the structure utilizing the present location at 800 4th Ave. E. Underground parking with 42 vehicle spaces is also a part of the plan.

Present city hall staff will continue to use the west side of the building that won't require renovation. Planning, Building Inspections, Municipal Court and Information Technologies will occupy space vacated by the Police Department whille the police will be occupying the new eastern areas earmarked for work.

The design creates a nice public link and an openness as far as public interaction goes. There will be two new easily accessible entrances, a new parking lot on the north side, and several other new areas including a commission chamber, a room to house building inspection, as well as an expanded I.T. headquarters

The plans also show a highly expanded police operation facility with specific interrogation and evidence areas and considerably more room for patrol officer interaction, support and training.

Designers tried to incorporate a new aesthetic feel into the exterior design of the complex using diverse elements to tie the existing building to the new area providing a look better depicting the structure as a West Fargo civic symbol.

Reitan said he felt the plan was a good one "providing for the best utilization" adding that the heated garage "will also improve the life of the department's vehicles." He added that the design "is a good understanding of what we were asking for. It allows for open communication and additonal flexibility. I think the flow if going to work very well."

Police Chief Arland Rasmussen, still recuperating from heart surgery was present at the meeting for the discussion. He too praised the plan for promoting openness in communication. "It is a very nice open office area that will provide for optimum flexibility as the department grows and changes." He added that he really appreciated all the work on the project from the YHR staff as well as Reitan, who has been actively involved with planning since day one.

Rokke said the next step will be putting together the engineering plans during the next six weeks time that will include the design and development and footing and foundation packages. The goal will be to bid for footings to be placed this fall with the remaining work bid in late September so work could start this winter and be completed next fall.

Estimated cost as it sits now is at $10 million with $8.5 of those construction costs and the remaining contingency areas. The station will be funded by tapping into city reserve funds and sales tax. "We can do this with the resources we have," City Administrator Jim Brownlee stated. "We don't plan on borrowing any money."

When asked how long city hall can maintain status without asking for new space, the response was "at least ten years."

Mayor Rich Mattern commended the plan especially the central area for the public to come into. "When you look at it it has some personality. I think it has been very well done."

Commissioner Mark Simmons said he liked the underground parking the best for two reasons -- it will provide for better care of the vehicles and by not taking up additional space on city hall property helps provide additional room for growth down the road.

In other action, the commission:

-agreed to move on with phase III of a water study report involving the city's aquifer system, directing Jim Lambert of Liesch Associates, overseeing the efforts, to speed up the process;

-approved first reading of Ordinance No. 959 relating to contractor's license, fee, expiration date and license and examination fees and relating to meter deposit. The ordinance is being amended to change from a calendar year license to an April 1 to March 31 term making it the same as state law for contractors. A $5 fee not being collected was also removed in the change.

-held a public hearing and approved second reading on the rezoning of South Pond at the Preserve 7th Addition, from agricultural and mixed one and two family dwellings to single family dwellings for a 4.5 plus acre parcel located on the north side of 31st Avenue East, between Bluestem Drive and Seventh Street East. The request was made by Rusty Goose Development.

-awarded the contract for Sewer, Water, Storm and Street Improvement District No. 1254, South Pond at the Preserves 7th Addition, to Master Construction, Fargo, with a low bid of $252,380.60. Engineer's estimate was $265,000;

-awarded the contract for Sewer and Water Improvement District No. 1255. Shadow Creek 4th Addition, to Master Construction, Fargo, with a low bid of $172,969.50. Engineers estimate was $182,000;

-awarded the contract for Sewer, Water, Storm and Street Improvement District, Strawberry Fields Addition, to H & S Construction, Moorhead, with a low bid of $234,764.95. Engineer's estimate was $158,000;

-awarded the contract for Sewer. Water, Storm and Street Improvement District No. 1259, Charleswood 29th Addition, to Master Construction, Fargo, with a low bid of $253,838.55. Engineer's estimate was $290,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, June 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. All meetings are open to the public.

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