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Wakefield Council envisions proposed city hall dreamscape


P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

A COMPUTER simulation of a remodeled office for Wakefield city manager Richard Brackney is shown at a Monday meeting of the Wakefield City Council. The rendering by Architect John Larson of Gwinn was offered for consideration as part of an overall remodeling and expansion of the Wakefield City Hall. From left are city attorney Ray O'Dea and Brackney.


Wakefield - Wakefield City Council members, as well as a group of Wakefield citizens, viewed a virtual computer rendering of a proposed City Hall renovation that includes an optional expansion to house a new city library, Monday evening.

Architect John Larson, who operates in Gwinn and Negaunee, and his colleague Mike Lempinen, an architectural designer, offered the slide show, which they emphasized was "schematic," rather than any attempt to "dictate" council decisions.

Within the proposal, much of the current City Hall floor plan would remain as is, but would undergo full cosmetic upgrades in the way of new carpeting, new furniture, new lighting fixtures and water fountains, and wall resurfacing as needed.

The office of City Manager Richard Brackney would be reduced in size to allow for a new, adjacent storage and workroom area.

The suggested expansion would be across from the current council chambers, and it would allow the city library, now at 401 Hancock St., to increase its existing square footage of 1,700 by about 80 percent to 3,300.

The new library would include a spacious circulation desk, centrally placed tables and chairs; computer stations for public use; a colorful children's area, a service window with secure off-hour closure facing the hallway; expanded room for book stacks; a workroom for the librarian; an employee bathroom; and a reading area with large, southern-exposure windows flanked by easy chairs and small tables.

"The building is sound. Electrically, it's very sound. It would be able to accommodate any expansion," said Larson, adding of the proposed library wing, "The building actually was built to have an addition to that side."

Moreover, he said that, although he and his colleagues have studied the existing library site, they have determined that no room for expansion exists there, and they did not consider using the municipal building's community room, as the City Council already had made clear that city residents liked using it as such.

"Wow,!" said Council Member Amy Tarro, "You guys did an awesome job. Of course, I'd like to see it. I think your presentation was impressive, but ... the monetary concerns definitely have to be addressed."

Adding to the cost in the way of functional needs is Larson and Lempinen's recommendation to install two new boilers and energy-efficient windows.

"If at some point this goes forward," said council member John Granato, an assessment on city residents would be needed. "It's financially tough in this town, so we'd need public input."

Lempinen noted that, if the city council reached the point of approving such a project, which is not yet complete, there are two means by which to contain cost: (1) Scale back the plans; and/or (2) Seek options for related grants, and initiate a full-scale fund-raising campaign.

"We're not dictating the size, the final footprint" said Larson, adding that the city council now can proceed with ongoing discussions as to what or how much is really needed and desired in terms of any future decisions.

In other action, the council also voted to:

-Ask the city's Personnel Committee to process applications from James Anderson and Dan Obradovich, who both submitted letters of interest in the part-time role of city blight officer;

-Accept the single bid, which was from Lindquist Electric, Inc. of Ironwood for $5,800, to install a new generator at the municipal building, with added assurance from Brackney that he would arrange for the gas supply line as needed, since no bids were received for that work;

-Declare as surplus a property on Bedell St., within the Onella Addition between Block 2, Lot 11, and Block 4, Lot 2, and put the property, which was deemed as unbuildable due to underlying rock, up for a minimum bid of $500;

-Grant Brackney permission to seek funds to resolve problems with the deck next to the Wakefield Visitor Center, following an informal review by Paul Anderson and a team from Coleman Engineering Company in Ironwood that showed significant issues with instability;

-Accept the offers of city council members Patricia Mann and Kay Wiita to be part of a committee to address city street name problems, with the understanding that the Wakefield Planning Commission now also will appoint two or three members to the same committee;

-Adopt a Resolution of Support for Highland Copper of Wakefield to apply through Gogebic County for funds to improve County Road 519, from M-28 to the Wakefield Township site of Highland's proposed copper mine, which is set to open in 2020;

-Approve a summary report for the end of fiscal year 2017;

-Approve September (final) and October (partial) invoices.

The next meeting of the Wakefield City Council will be at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23.


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