City sets public open house for Jan. 22
Medina residents and business people will get a chance to inspect the city’s new Public Works and Police departments facility at 600 Clydesdale Trail at an open house, set for 3:30-6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The city will use this opportunity to remember former Mayor Tom Crosby when it dedicates a plaque in his memory at a 3:30 p.m. ceremony with his family. The plaque will be installed at the building to memorialize his leadership through the complex process of finding and financing new quarters for public works and police. Crosby died in May 2013 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
At the open house, taxpayers can check out what they are getting for their money. Medina is paying off $7.5 million in bonds that are financing the $4.125 million purchase price of the former Clam Corps office and warehouse building, along with $3.375 million in renovation costs.
“We’re getting a lot of space for the money,” said Medina Public Works Director Steve Scherer, as he and Medina Police Chief Ed Belland conducted an informal tour of the facility in December. The facility spans 68,000 square feet, compared to the 35,000 square feet that once were proposed for a new building to house public works alone, according to Scherer.
“We’re doing it right,” Belland said. He expected the new facility to meet Medina’s needs for the next 30 to 40 years.
The two departments in mid-November began the long, laborious process of moving from their old cramped homes at Medina City Hall on County Road 24. By the end of the year, both departments still were putting finishing touches on the move — public works from a vintage 1975 pole barn and police from the City Hall basement.
The Clam Corps building purchase, in one gulp, solved three of Medina’s needs for public facilities while saving taxpayers’ money, officials said. As recently as 2010, Medina’s financial management plan called for constructing a new public works building in 2012 and possible construction of a new city hall and police building in 2015. Then in 2011, Medina estimated that it would cost $6.5 million to construct a new public works facility on 11 acres near the Hennepin County Public Works Facility on Prairie Drive.
Now that police and public works have relocated, one task remains: remodeling City Hall. Talk of building a new city hall in 2015 has ended.
Scherer and Belland said they were pleased to now have access to some basics in their new facilities, such as showers. Quarters at their old location were so cramped that showers were used for storage. At their new headquarters, public works employees can clean up after working in sewers, and police officers can wash up after medical calls without going home.
Another basic is a place for police officers to sleep between night time arrests of suspects and driving them to county court in the morning.
The Clydesdale building is a sturdy, concrete block facility that originally was built to house a beer distributorship. Floor drains, garage doors, garage floor space and maintenance areas once were designed for beer trucks. Medina was able to convert these parts of the building for city use without much effort, Scherer said.
He and Belland talked about advantages of being able to bring city vehicles and equipment inside. Scherer said a road grader had been sitting outside for 10 years, and this affected its hydraulics. Belland recalled how police squad cars suffered hail damage two years in a row because they were sitting outside. The city lost $22,000 the first year and $18,000 the second year because of the damage.
The new heated garage area protects delicate electronic equipment that sits in modern-day squad cars. Police are able to jump into a squad in 20 below weather and immediately head out. Another heated area houses and protects electronic water meters that did not exist when the 1975 vintage public works building was constructed.
Scherer talked about how flammables were stored in a work area in the old building. Now the two areas are separate, and public works employees can use a ventilated welding booth. A couple of years ago, an employee was doing some welding inside the old building, when sparks flew up and set the roof on fire.
Medina Public Works has a new crane to use for hoisting huge snow plow blades during installation on trucks, thus protecting employees from injury. Hennepin County has a similar device at its Public Works Facility.
For police, the “big thing” about the new building is security, Belland said. Officers bring in suspects via a sally port where no items that might serve as weapons are in sight. Police have electronic key cards to open doors to booking and just about every other place in the department. If suspects are detained, they are locked in one of two holding cells.
At the old police department, suspects were detained in a room with a plexiglass window. Belland remembered how a suspect recently kicked out the window. If a suspect escaped, he could get just about anywhere in the police department. Now the computerized door locks protect police employees.
Belland said he was looking forward to using the new meeting and training room, which can accommodate 50 people and serve as an emergency operations center. Users will have access to a kitchenette, sinks, small refrigerator and bathroom. Eventually the training room will be equipped with electronic presentation equipment, including a large screen TV. For now, electronics have been cut from the budget.
The 600 Clydesdale building has lots to see inside — locker rooms, offices, maintenance bays, secure interview rooms, evidence lockers, security cameras and more. The Jan. 22 open house will be the public’s chance to look it over.
Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]