Rockford takes next step in event center project

At its July 24 meeting, the Rockford City Council and discussed the event center project, and going forward with a request for proposals for a construction manager.

The project, which has garnered council and public interest over the last few years, was given a new boost when Councilor Jeannette Graner proposed to the council last year that it consider a pre-engineered building to bring down the cost.

The building would reside in the Riverside Park area and replace the existing Lions Building, which is considered to be in teardown shape. It would be used by nonprofit organizations and available to rent for private parties like weddings and graduations. The center would be approximately 44-hundred square feet, seating up to 300, with a kitchen, bar, restrooms and utility space, making it possible to host more than one small group at the same time.

City Administrator Nancy Carswell proposed the idea of hiring a construction manager after hearing how this benefited other cities with similar projects. Because the building is pre-engineered, the city can use its own engineer and will not need an architect, additional savings to the project which, at this time, is estimated to cost the city about $900,000. The construction manager would oversee all the project details including contracting labor and reporting the financial status of the project to council.

The schedule prepared by Carswell, and supported by the council, called for sending out RFP’s immediately, interviewing candidates mid-August, and hiring a manager in late August. Ideally, construction would begin this fall with a finished center ready to use in the spring.

Due to the length of time the event center project has been part of council discussion, with this administration and the prior one, the schedule does not seem overly aggressive. Mayor Mike Beyer and Councilor Rick Martinson both remarked that they regularly receive inquiries from residents regarding the projects status.

In other city news, Carswell reported that the Greater MSP Economic Development (a private-public partnership whose mission is to stimulate economic growth and prosperity in the Minneapolis Saint Paul region) has expanded its search for business sites into Wright County, and this has resulted in numerous leads for the city. Carswell proposed a visioning session for the council so it could assess properties and plan effectively for growth in light of recent indicators. The council will meet on this in October.

Also, the city’s annual River Days celebration will be held August 10 to 12 in Riverside Park. Parks Supervisor Darcy Desens has begun spraying the park weekly to help cut down on blood donations during this, and other, city events.

The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council will be Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main St.