Belle Plaine City Council authorized the next step in the planning process for a potential short-term facility plan that, if approved, would update or replace facilities for the police department, public works department, and fire department.

The project is estimated to cost $17 million.

The City of Belle Plaine began working with the architecture firm, Wold Architects & Engineers, in September 2020, to develop a  Comprehensive Facilities Study to identify space needs for the city as it prepares for growth in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

Representatives from Wold walked the council through the study during the work session on Monday, June 7, and again during the regular council meeting on Monday, July 19.

Council accepted the study  on Monday, July 19, with a 4-1 vote. Councilman Cary Coop voted against the decision.

Council also authorized Wold to move forward with the Schematic Design, the first phase of basic services for project design. Council voted 4-1 to move forward with this phase, with Cary Coop again voting against the decision.

The architecture firm will now spend three months, between August 2021 and October 2021, finalizing the layout of the projects and developing a detailed cost break-down.

Wold recommends that these short-term projects take place within the next five years. Councilman Coop noted that the projects, if approved, could take place at any time and that the city would find a timeline that works best with its budget.

Police Department Proposal

Under Wold’s recommendations, the police department would get a new 32,000 square foot facility on the existing property, with enough room to include ambulance spaces.

According to Wold’s report, the existing facility is beyond its useful life and should be replaced instead of repaired.

The new facility would either be in the center of the lot, slightly further away from Main St., or in the top left corner of the lot, north of John’s Mobil. The estimated cost for the new facility is $12,800,000.

Fire Department Proposal

In the short-term, the existing fire department could see an addition plus new renovations. The study proposes a 1,700 square foot two-story addition that will allow crews to have turnout gear storage and a decontamination area. Renovations would include adding a garage door to make a drive-thru bay for a new vehicle, relocating the generator and storage to the second floor, and removing storage area for a new ladder truck.

The cost of this project would be an estimated $1,700,000.

Public Works Proposal

The Public Works Department would receive a new elevator, salt shed, recreation/aquatics offices, and more storage space. The study also proposes renovations for the lobby and support spaces. The total cost for this portion of the project is an estimated $2,500,000.

Mid-term and Long-term Plans

As part of the study, Wold also developed a mid-term and long-term facilities plan. Unlike the short-term plan, this section is not currently approved for Schematic Design.

Mid-term recommendations from the study include adding 14,700 square feet of new public works storage space for a total of $3,250,000. Long-term recommendations include adding a new fire facility, a new public works satellite facility, and city hall renovations for projected staff growth totaling $10 million.

Projected Growth

Wold used data from the 2010 Census and  the latest Metropolitan Council data to develop population projections for the City of Belle Plaine.

The study estimates that by 2025, the city will have a population of 8,950, by 2035 that number will grow to 11,450, and by 2040 the population would be an estimated 12,800.

It is expected that city personnel growth will increase as the population increases, though Wold predicts that technology will likely mitigate some of the need for additional space.

Downtown Business District Project Meeting

The City of Belle Plaine plans to hold a meeting in early August to discuss the Downtown Business District Development, Rehab, and Infrastructure Improvement Project.

Property and business owners who would be affected by the project will be invited to attend the meeting to discuss the details of the plan and any next steps.

The potential project would look at expanding sidewalks downtown, creating parallel parking, and outdoor dining spaces in conjunction with utility improvements that are necessary for storm water and sewer issues in the area.

The Belle Plaine Herald reached out for more details on this project and will publish additional information as it becomes available.

Large Donation from Friends of the Library

Council accepted a $20,000 donation from the Belle Plaine Friends of the Library from the lawful gambling funds. The money will be deposited into the City’s fund to be used for future Library expenses.

Personnel Changes

Council appointed Hunter Eschenbach as a full-time police officer with the City of Belle Plaine. Eschenbach will begin full-time on or before September 1, 2021.

Council accepted the resignation of Planning and Zoning Commissioner Omni Kiecker, who served on the commission since 2017. Luke Simonson was appointed as a regular member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and staff will now seek an alternate Planning and Zoning member.

Other Notable Actions

• Council authorized Bolton and Menk to create a wastewater treatment facility study, as the facility is approximately five years away from needing improvements.

•  Council called a public hearing for the 2021 Improvement Project scheduled for Monday, August 16, at 6:30 p.m.

•  Council approved an on-sale liquor license for an event hosted by Our Lady of the Prairie on Saturday, September 11.

• Council approved the final plat of Chatfield Commercial Park First Addition.

Looking Ahead

Upcoming Tentative Meetings and Events:

Downtown Music and Food, Wednesday, July 28, 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

City Council Meeting, Monday, August 2, 6:30 p.m.

Work Session, Monday, August 2, 6:45 p.m.

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