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Chatfield Center for the Arts, local landmark designation

Fri, Aug 31st, 2012
Posted in Chatfield Government

Robert Vogel, Preservation Planner, explained to the Chatfield City Council at their August 27 meeting the process to designate the Center for the Arts as a local landmark. Paul Novotny was absent.

Vogel had submitted a report to the Heritage Preservation Commission detailing the history and plans for the 1936 auditorium and the 1916 high school buildings in January. Another copy was sent to the Minnesota Historical Society for review and comment.

The Minnesota Historical Society noted in a June letter that the “auditorium-gymnasium is a well-preserved example of a Public Works Administration project, thereby serving to illustrate the benefits of the federal relief program at the local level.” The letter continued that the Chatfield High School and Auditorium Gymnasium is “an ideal candidate for local designation under the City’s local preservation ordinance.”

Vogel commented that all the legal requirements are in order. He said both buildings were built to last and saving the buildings can be a benefit in the future. The city can save by recycling the old buildings. Vogel suggested the buildings give a more interesting look to the city and would have been a $7 to $8 million investment in today’s dollars. He maintained local designation can open doors to more funding sources.

Public Hearing

Councilor Ken Jacobson asked if this designation would limit renovation in any way. Vogel explained it is called rehabilitation rather than restoration, by using as much of the old as possible while making it usable in the twenty-first century. Jacobson asked if modern materials can be used and Vogel said they could be.

Robert Thesenvitz noted he was a 30-year resident of the city and confirmed he had voted to save Potter Auditorium. He said his fear is that we open up the door, causing taxpayers to foot the bill as they did for the Thurber Building. He asked if the designation will open up tax obligation to the whole district instead of just the city. Later, City Clerk Joel Young confirmed it would not open up a larger tax base.

Thesenvitz maintained that the auditorium was supposed to be self supporting. He complained that meetings have been held in the afternoon when working people can not attend, resulting in a lack of public input. He asked the council to seriously look at the benefit of this designation and inquired about the possibility of a listing on the National Historic Register. Young stated local designation is completely different than the national register. Vogel commented it would be redundant to have both. He said he didn’t think there would be enough benefit for the cost.

Councilor Josh Thompson asked if the designation will open doors for more funding. Vogel said the honorary status on the buildings attract interest and investment, adding the designation will be a very positive development.

Jacobson worried that buildings under this designation will have a higher cost for renovation due to requirements to follow certain regulations. He insisted he didn’t want to be put into that box.

Thompson was concerned they could be forced to do something they are not prepared for. Vogel said you can only do what you can when you can.

The council approved a motion to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance as the code requires to designate the Center for the Arts property as a Chatfield Heritage Landmark. Jacobson voted against.

Preliminary Budget/Levy

Young noted that the preliminary numbers are a result of budget numbers from department heads. The budget includes a three percent increase in the general pay grid, step increases, and a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

In written information relating to the budget, it was noted that the EDA has as one of its priorities the redevelopment of the Twiford Street area (area bounded by Twiford Street, Division Street, Main Street, and Grove Street). The EDA has requested a yearly additional allocation of $20,000 to provide funds to assemble the property to re-develop this area.

There is no increase for 2013 to the subsidy provided for the Center for the Arts.

The refunding of 2008 bonds results in a decrease in debt service payments in the amount of $17,000 per year.

Young noted that there will be some need to address water and sewer rates.

The council will not vote on the preliminary levy until the September 10 meeting. The current proposal has a 5.264 percent increase. Jacobson noted that this figure is the high end, it can be lowered. Mayor Don Hainlen suggested it is better to have a modest increase, rather than have a much higher increase in subsequent years to catch up.

Other Business In Brief

•A bid from All Weather Roofing for maintenance of the fire house roof was approved for a total not to exceed $10,369 as recommended by the Public Works Committee. The repair is expected to extend the life of the roofs by several years.

•Approval was given for the proposal from Infratech, out of Rogers, for the sewer maintenance program, as recommended by the Public Works Committee. It is a five-year maintenance contract.

•Tony Lammers explained there are problems at the booster station with the controls, as the valves in the water tower are a problem. Approval was given to have the problem valves removed at a cost of $6,800.

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