Days Inn is focus of another heritage fight

The opening public salvo in the Days Inn heritage preservation argument came at the December meeting of the Destination Medical Center Board.

Proponents of saving the building spoke during the public comment period.
The next public session should be the Heritage Preservation Committee meeting on Dec. 27. But the fact that “a fight” was coming has been discussed for weeka.

John Kruesel, a long time advocate of heritage preservation, said before start of the DMC session, that if his group, the Rochester Conservancy, can’t retain the entire building, the next best is the facade.

HPC proponents could only speak during the DMC’s public comment session for all of two minutes. That prevented Kruesel from reading his entire statement. He outlined the history of the building involving owners the Charles Grassle family.

Since the hotel was recently given historic preservation status, Nicholas Moucha, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said in his comments that his group would like the developer to develop a proposal that investigates further adaptive reuse.

Because these were made during the public comment period no action was taken. Later DMC’s Chris Bier who is also a Olmsted County Commissioner, said its not the commissioners role to decide heritage preservation issues.
The Days Inn has its immediate neighbor on south a parking lot and then after that the Chateau Theater.

Rochester public works testing contract – who knew?

The city public works department is using a council-approved contract called “city owner contract quality improvement.

The contract was presented to the council in late 2015. The purpose of this contract is “to improve the overall quality of the public infrastructure to achieve expected infrastructure guidelines.”

But,according to a response from public works, how many time this contract has been used since approval will take until late January to answer.

An often heard comment about area development projects is that they seem to just pop up.

Considering the detail in this contract projects just don’t appear out of nowhere. But residents have forgotten this contract exists or do not know about it in the first place.

The basic concerns in the contract are existing poor soils, poor compaction, minimum construction conservation/inspection and closer coordination of all involved.
At least 16 requirements go along with this contract.

Mental health major issue at legislative session

A sheriff in a nearby county wanted to know if a mentally ill patient who did not belong in jail was handled properly.
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson recounted the conversation which took place just as the annual legislative county session got started.
Torgerson said that this sheriff had no place to put the mentally ill person so a room was created in the basement of his office while a better place was located. Torgerson said the nearby sheriff was calling because he wanted to know whether this was okay.
Torgerson used the story to reinforce the need for an urgent care facility for the mentally ill, a project the county board was in the process of discussing when the sheriff told his story.
If the project goes ahead, the facility will be only the second in the state. Planning includes $75 million in bonding. The only other such facility is in Duluth.
As one of the invited local legislators, Sen. Dave Senjem listened intently. He will chair the bonding committee this year, a fact he has reminded local officials of several times in recent weeks.

On another subject Torgerson said meth, an illegal drug, is coming into the county via tankers. This is a major issue for those who are mentally impaired.

On transportation Public Works Director Mike Sheehan said Highway 14 now has a history of 755 crashes and planning will be done to address the problem.

Turn Chateau to developer to get money?

No money for the Chateau Theater? Then some people are suggesting the the entire project be turned over to a developer.
Whether this idea will take hold isn’t known right now, according to sources. But time will tell.
Money for the Chateau did not get serious attention during the city’s recent budget discussions. However, a suggestion was made that surrounding businesses and developers be asked for a share because of potential economic benefits.
Currently no Chateau Re-uas Task Force sessions have been set-up where the money could be discussed.

Water surge common

Water pressure surges involving building sprinkler systems institutes a call to the fire department.
This is what happened to the 16-story Park Towers apartment buidling recently. Also this is the second time for this event. Because of the building’s size, the fire department’s response included engines and a ladder truck.
To stop this, the water department recommends increasing the water pressure in the building.
Deputy Chief Vance Fischer said this problem “occurs all over town.”
Also as new water pipes (from construction) meet old pipes the problem is expected to increase.

DMC meeting subdued by comparison to the past

The Destination Medical Center Commissioners will only meet four times next year, unless needed for urgent business.
This announcement came at the December meeting where the commissioners heard status reports on several projects, most in early stages of construction.
But what this schedule might mean for development projects was not discussed publicly. One possibiliy is that DMC local management may be reluctant to call a session for one project, thus delaying the proposed construction even longer.
Getting most of the attention was the Alatus Project, a retail-apartment combination across the street from St, Mary’s Hospital. Amidst the praises were familiar complaints about what developers face in getting projects done in Rochester.
Michael Daugherty said he wanted to see the hardcore financials. The response from one official was that the project had two possible sources for dollars, so he wasn’t worried about money. He said his bigger concern was a shortage of construction help to get the project done.

An expansion of DMC boundaries was also approved for Alatus, allowing the entire3 project to be included and thus eligible for future funding.
Other projects noted at the meeting were the Heart of the City, the Opus Project, the Chateau Theater and the Carlton Hotel. All are located on Center Street or nearby on Broadway on the west side.
The DMC has offered in writing the need for utility upgrades south of Second Street, but so far has not discussed the problems during commissioners’ meetings.
Note: What appeared different at this session was the lack of excitement about DMC work.

As everyone organized to leave, lost in the middle of the meeting room was Councilman Michael Wojick who had held a neigjborhood meeting a few days before on the Alatus project. He sat slightly slouched with a grim look on his face.