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Winthrop Council to look for options on fire/ambulance building

by Michael Mattison
The Winthrop City Council considered a compensation package with ISG for $348,800 to provide pre-design, design, post design which include construction documents and bid administration for a possible joint fire and ambulance building at its regular September meeting.
Councilwoman Megan Schmidt asked that costs on adding an air exchange to the current fire barn be obtained and also getting bids from other firms for the project. Her motion passed 3-2 with Councilwomen Dawn Wickenhauser and Jenny O’Connor against. With Mayor Rob Edwards absent, Council President Julie Trebelhorn cast the deciding vote.
City Administrator Michael Looft said that his project would be a USDA project and in order to apply for the USDA loan, construction documents are needed to get funding.
Looft said financial advisor Shannon Sweeney was in the office to discuss funding the project. He said getting USDA funding is much cheaper than traditional bonding.
Looft anticipates that Winthrop would be able to obtain the USDA loan because the City is a multi-community ambulance (assisting Gibbon) and mutual aide fire department.
“This building would fix a lot of problems that we have with the current building,” Looft said.
Ed Stoll (ambulance Captain), members of the fire department, Councilwomen O’Connor and Megan Schmidt have been researching the project. “We have done a lot of research,” Looft said.
Three different properties have been considered. One was by the ethanol plant but deemed too close to the blast zone. One was by the current school but it was thought too close to the park and highway. “The place they selected was not just a dart on the dart board,” Looft said. “I think we’d be building a building that will last generations.”
Schmidt was concerned with the cost of the package as well as the cost of the building.
Trebelhorn commented that the building built 20 years ago doesn’t work as well now with the size of the trucks. She added that in the future, the ambulance may need to have on-site staff.
“I think there is a real need for the building but I do think it is smart to get some other bids,” Trebelhorn said.

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