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Viroqua City Council accepts bid for City Hall construction project

Viroqua City Council accepts bid for City Hall construction project

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The Viroqua City Council accepted a total construction bid of $2,598,985 from Brickl Bros., Inc., for the City Hall construction project at its regular virtual meeting, Tuesday, April 27.

Prior to the vote, Mike Maas, an architect with ADCI (Architectural Design Consultants, Inc.), gave a brief overview of the City Hall construction project’s history, the final design, which was approved by the City Council Jan. 26, and answered alderpersons’ questions.

City Administrator Nate Torres gave a timeline of the City Hall construction project. He said bids were opened March 18.

Torres said during construction the city will own the building and property; once the building is complete, ownership will be transferred to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Viroqua (RDA) and it will hold a 40-year loan. “The city will have a lease agreement,” he said. “When the long-term loan is paid off, the city will control the building and property.”

The speculative start of construction is May 24 and the speculative end of construction is April 30, 2022. The speculative date for full occupancy of the building is May 30, 2022.

Torres said five bids were received – Brickl Bros., Inc., Wieser Brothers, Fowler & Hammer, Inc., Americon and Market & Johnson. Brickl Bros. had the lowest bid. On Jan. 26, the City Council approved the final budget of about $3.23 million with a $238,000 contingency amount included.

Torres said as of April 8, the actual budget was $3.29 million. He said the contingency amount can be lowered from $238,000 to $129,000 to accommodate the higher bids due to the higher cost of some building materials.

In an email after the meeting, Torres said $3.290 million is the total project budget which includes the $2.599 million construction bid and $691,000 in other costs (design, furniture, IT, etc.).

He said the project includes a $612,000 grant from FEMA – which will allow the city to create a multipurpose community safe room in the building’s lower level.

“The room has been designed and will be constructed to standards that provide life-saving protection in the event tornadoes and other dangerous weather events,” Torres said in the email. “The grant amount increased $112,000 from the amount used when the final design was approved on Jan. 26. Therefore, despite the construction bids coming in high, the city is still in a better financial position proceeding with the project than it was when it approved the final design back in January.”

Torres said the approval of the construction bid is contingent on the city receiving full authorization from both USDA and FEMA – as well as locking down interim financing.

The new City Hall building will be constructed on the vacant city-owned 0.7-acre lot at 124 W. Decker St. The lot at one time was the site of the Swanson Lumber Yard.

The City Council also approved the planned unit development (PUD) on a 3.7-acre parcel on Arena Drive between Nelson Parkway and Railroad Avenue by Vikemyr-Wangen Properties, LLC with contingencies –shade trees, outdoor seating, Dark Skies lighting, non-invasive plantings and pending Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources storm water approval. The final vote was 7-2, with Alderpersons Allison Sandbeck and Gregory Splinter voting no.

Prior to the vote, there was a public hearing on the PUD. Darrin Beier of Beier Engineering and Anthony Wangen of Vikemyr-Wangen Properties, LLC were on hand to answer questions and give an overview of the plans for Silverthorne Estates PUD.

Beier said a PUD allows for denser housing, limits sprawl, maintains green space and has unique storm water management. He said there will be four duplex units, one four-plex unit, two three-plex units, and one economy duplex unit, which has two units.

Wangen said the garages are set in a bit, shakes will be used, there will be wood corbels and wood-grain doors will be installed. In addition, there will be stone on the garages. He said it’s a Craftsman style, and each unit’s exterior will be different. “It will have some good curb appeal.”

Mayor Karen Mischel said there wouldn’t be sidewalks in the PUD, because they wouldn’t connect with anything. “With the density there are no sidewalks; Railroad Avenue has no sidewalks.

Alderperson Tanja Birke asked about parking and garages. Beier said most of the units have double garages. Wangen said residents should be able to get two cars deep in the driveways.

Splinter said he felt sad looking at the renderings of the units. “I know the engineering is competent, but there was never a word of design. I don’t see houses – I see garages. I see a garage with a house tucked behind.”

Splinter said he wondered about the social dynamic of the development. “How it would feel as a neighborhood; will it bring people together. It can be done. How it feels should be at the forefront.”

Alderperson Cyndy Hubbard said the development will lead to more density. “It’s sad,” she said. “Gregory is making good points.”

Kristal Welter said the city needs a comprehensive plan. “I’m afraid we’ll get more like this.” Sandbeck said the council is “constantly setting precedence.”

Alderperson Ben Wilson said he agreed with the others’ comments, but would vote yes because there is a housing deficit. “We need a vision for the future, and it should come quicker than later.”

Mischel said there was lots of discussion at the Plan Commission meeting about some of the same points. She said they talked about benches to bring the community together and planting shade trees. “They’ve been accommodating to that. This isn’t for everybody. There are people who like this type of look. I know their work and the majority of people hired are locals. This is on the edge of the industrial park, not downtown. We have quality craftsmanship.”

Wangen encouraged alderpersons to see what they have built on Erickson Lane. “A garage is part of a house – people need it,” he said. “There’s more than vinyl siding and garages.”

Alderperson David Tryggestad said he had seen what was built on Erickson Lane and “They look really, really nice.”

In other business, the city council approved the following appointments and reappointments: Appointed Kim Littel to the Board of Appeals for a three-year term expiring May 1, 2024 to replace Sonja Fortney as alternate member; reappointed Sonya Newenhouse and David Levin to the Plan Commission for three-year terms expiring May 1, 2024; reappointed Lynn Kronschnabel and appointed Jerrod Getz to the Tree Board for three-year terms expiring June 1, 2024 and appointed Wyatt Oldham to a three-year term expiring June 1, 2023 replacing Nathaniel Slack as citizen member; and appointed Allison Sandbeck to Tourism Commission replacing Tanja Birke for a one-year term expiring April 30, 2022.

The council also approved the mayoral citizen member appointments to the Diversity Advisory Board for a two-year term expiring June 1, 2023. The appointments are Susan Townsley and Sodham “Sam” Patel.

Council members approved a Temporary Class B beer license for VARC, Inc., for Moonlight Cinema movies in the Park Bowl on June 25, July 23, Aug. 13 and Sept. 3. City Clerk/Treasurer Lori Polhamus said beer will be served from a beverage truck, IDs will be checked and there will be wristbands for those of legal drinking age.

Angela Cina can be reached at angie.cina@lee.net.

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Vernon County Times editor

Angie Cina is editor of the Vernon County Times. Contact her at 608-637-5616.

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