Local News

Council continues discussion on priorities

Petersburg’s elected leaders have mixed opinions on which capital project should top the city’s state-funding wish list this year. The Mayor and four of the Councilors attended a work-session to revise the list Monday afternoon. They agreed that a new police station and the replacement of North Harbor should remain in the top two slots. The question was which should be number one.

Councilors Nancy Strand and Rick Braun as well as Mayor Al Dwyer leaned towards the Police Station. Braun and Dwyer pointed out immediate concerns about the poor condition of the facility.

“Liability’s a hell of a motivator,” said Dwyer.

“We may need to take remedial action even before the police station’s built. So, that seems kind of wasteful,” Braun added.

Braun noted that City Manager Steve Giesbrecht had also suggested the police station be the top priority. The project received 350-thousand dollars for design last legislative session but there is no construction funding on hand at this point.

North Harbor was on the top of the list last year and received 3-and-a-half million dollars from lawmakers. That brought the project’s total funding to seven million. City officials originally thought that would be enough, but the latest estimate put the cost at eight-point-seven.

Considering the harbor project is much further along, Councilors Mark Jensen and John Jensen thought it should remain on top.

“The North Harbor…they’ll start dredging next August. I know there’s plans where you could do it in phases but if we could get the money…fund the full nine million dollars. We could, you know, complete the whole project. And the police station right now…..We’ve picked the site that we want to use and we’re forming a committee to start the design of it but we don’t even know what its going to cost. We have a pretty firm figure on the harbor,” said Mark Jensen.

City officials have come up with a ballpark cost estimate of 7.5 million dollars for a new police station. Beyond that project and the North Harbor replacement, councilors chose another 18 items from their list based on requests from city department heads and other local officials.

The draft list includes sewer infrastructure work, new siding and insulation for the elementary school and new boilers district-wide as well as renovations at long term care and other hospital improvements, a rebuild for the Rasmus Enge Bridge over Hammer Slough, a remodel for the community gym and a vessel wash-down facility. There’s also design work for a new museum building, renovations for the municipal building, a columbarium to house cremated remains in Petersburg’s cemetery, a harbor rate study, purchase of waterfront property at Scow Bay and recycling equipment.

Since it was a work-session and not a regular meeting this week, the Councilors didn’t finalize the list or even vote to put the items in any particular order. They are slated to do that after a public hearing during next Monday’s meeting.

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