Officials: Late mayor saw how to save taxpayers money
Some Medina area citizens were glad, some were sad and some were both when the city dedicated its new Public Works Police Facility, Wednesday, Jan. 22, in honor of late Medina Mayor Thomas M. Crosby Jr.
A crowd filled the training room and emergency operations center to capacity at the newly renovated office and warehouse building at 600 Clydesdale Trail (the former Clam Corps building). Ten members of the Crosby family attended. Fred Winston, brother-in-law of the late mayor, remembered that a year ago in January, Tom Crosby was playing senior hockey and had no idea that he had pancreatic cancer. Four months later, he passed away.
“We owe so much to Tom, our former mayor,” said Mayor Elizabeth Weir, as she presented a plaque displaying a large photo of Crosby in the mayor’s chair.
Weir explained, “When other cities were curbing spending during the depths of the Great Recession, visionary Tom advocated the spur. His courage and leadership led us (in 2012) to purchase this 1994 warehouse, a largely open 69,500-square-foot building, and remodel it into a functionally designed public works and police facility. With an interest rate on $7.5 million in bonds at 2.125 percent, Tom’s foresight was nothing less than remarkable.”
Destined to hang in a prominent place in the building, the plaque reads:
“This Public Works and Police Facility is dedicated in honor of Thomas M. Crosby Jr. for his outstanding service to the City of Medina while serving as Mayor from January 2007 through April 2013. Mayor Crosby’s resolve and vision, shared by the City Council, led to the purchase, financing and renovation of 600 Clydesdale Trail for the Public Works and Police building to provide critical, long-term support services to Medina residents and businesses. The City Council of the City of Medina acknowledges with gratitude Mayor Crosby’s leadership, foresight and devotion to the community.”
Before Weir presented the plaque, City Administrator Scott Johnson, Public Works Director Steve Scherer and Medina Police Chief Ed Belland commented about the new facility and Mayor Crosby.
Belland said, “I’ll never forget him. He stood up and said, ‘This has to go forward. This is the right thing to do.’ Tom, when he put his mind to something, he was going to get it done. He saw the value in it, and we did go through with it.”
The facility is “something we’re extremely proud of,” Belland said. “The building process is a lot of work, but it came out really top notch. It’s planned for the future. We’re not going to be outgrowing it in five years and saying, ‘Oh, we need to bond for this. Over the course of our CIP (capital improvement program), we’re saving between $7 (million) and $8 million over the next 10 years.”
He continued: “The building is large, but it fits our needs so well. The large trucks are inside, we have small pickup trucks, cold storage for all the piping. We have gravel stored inside, so we don’t have to go outside and dig the frozen stuff when there’s a water main break.
“Where we came from, City Hall lasted 40 years. In my 25 years (with Medina Police), I’ve seen three renovations,” Belland said. “The Police Department has grown. We couldn’t have two officers pass in the same hallway.”
“It’s our job to make sure this facility lasts for 40 years,” he said. “Medina is about value and about looking out for the future and for the future of the taxpayers, and I think that this is a huge step in that direction. By making this investment now, we are saving everybody down the road a lot of money.”
Public Works Director Scherer said the new facility might seem large now, but it really is a 30-year project that is “in its infancy.” When the old public works pole barn and City Hall were built, they both seemed huge at the time. Then Medina probably had 700 residents.
City Administrator Johnson also talked about Medina’s growth. “The City Council began studying the need for more staff space in 1990, when a professional study stated that the 1975 public works structure was inadequate for the needs of the growing city.”
Recently Medina has experienced “substantial single-family housing growth with over 600 platted lots and will continue to grow,” he said.
The most significant space needs study took place in 2007, Johnson said. Kodet Consulting concluded that the public works facility was obsolete.
“It did not meet OSHA safety standards,” Johnson explained. “It had inadequate ventilation and the acute lack of storage space posed hazards to workers. The same study also pointed out the inadequacies of the police facilities, which were squeezed into the basement of City Hall. Kodet recommended $15 million of renovation and construction costs to address these shortcomings.”
Medina negotiated with Hennepin County for the option to purchase land from Hennepin County for a 35,000-square-foot public works facility, he continued.
This project would have solved only one problem: housing public works operations. The city still would have needed improved facilities for the police department and administration. Then the city had a chance to purchase the Clams Corps office and warehouse building. Renovating the former Clams Corps building at 600 Clydesdale Trail solved three problems at once, because City Hall now can remain on County Road 24 and be remodeled.
Purchase and renovation of 600 Clydesdale cost Medina $7.5 million, significantly less than the $15 million originally projected under the capital improvement plan for new facilities, Johnson said.
Mayor Weir ended the dedication of the building and Tom Crosby’s plaque with an invitation to tour the structure: “Come see what you own, what you bought.”
Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]