The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

City of Wakefield zeroes in on "dreamscape" priorities


February 28, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

LISTENING TO Wakefield city manager Richard Brackney, left, at Monday's Wakefield city council meeting are, from left, council members Kay Wiita, Amy Tarro, Pat Mann and Jim Anderson; mayor John Granato; and city clerk Sue Ahonen.


Wakefield - As of Monday, the Wakefield city council now has a "top three" list of priorities in relation to proposed remodeling of the municipal building.

John Larson, the Gwinn-based architect whose "dreamscape" vision has been mulled over by council members in recent months, was on hand to discuss related issues, along with city manager Richard Brackney.

The first three priorities are, in order:

-Creating a fireproof storage room, which will be made possible by reducing the space of Brackney's existing office.

-Converting a storage room, located across the hall from the municipal chambers, to a family restroom.

-Replacing windows in the community room as a first step toward refurbishing that entire room with an eye to using it for youth sports practice and community rental options.

Larson cautioned that no work can be done without first assessing any hazardous materials that must be removed according to proper environmental standards.

"The hazardous stuff these days can come from anything," said Larson, citing window sealant as one example. "So you have to have it documented before contractors begin."

Brackney said after the meeting that decisions on the preliminary work will be important in that they will set a precedent for whatever cascade of continuing projects may continue in future years. "The big thing to me is setting the pattern for how we want it to look," he said.

For instance, he explained, the type of windows chosen for his own office and for the community room should be carefully considered as a "prototype" for eventual window replacement throughout the building.

Brackney hopes all three proposed projects can be done by the end of summer, but he conceded that he does not yet have expense quotes on the storage room, let alone the additional projects.

"Is it all going to come together that quickly?" asked Brackney. "I have no idea."

In other news, the status of the city's quonset hut storage building on the upper end of Sunday Lake Street remains in limbo as council members referred the matter back to the city's building committee.

Brackney said the council has the option to call for bids on repair or, he added, "If it doesn't meet the council's needs, they can move on from there."

The council's decision follows an invitation from Joe Hilborn of Western U.P. Recycling to tear down the quonset hut at "no charge" to the city.

"We will haul away all metals," states Hilborn's Feb. 21 letter. "We will load any non-metal items in to dumpsters, if necessary, provided by the City of Wakefield. We will remove the building down to the concrete. The concrete will be left."

That offer came after Brackney's report at a previous meeting that Paul Kivi Construction in Wakefield had provided an informal quote of $33,000 to refurbish the building.

Brackney, who claimed that a new building could be built for less, told the Globe Monday that the structure's "extensive disrepair" will have to be addressed somehow.

"It's in the eye of everyone in the community," he said.

During Monday's meeting, Brackney also reported "no problems" with the city's annual water quality report. Mayor John Granato said that the report is available on the city's website or in the municipal building office for anyone wishing to review it.

In other action, the council also voted to:

- Commit $5,000 per month of the city's general fund balance to cover retiree health insurance costs;

- Change city hours from the current schedule of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. to a new schedule of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. after the daylight savings time change March 11, with an opposing vote from mayor pro tempore Amy Tarro;

-Accept an offer to renew service with Gogebic County Sheriff Pete Matonich, thus extending the city's current contract from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, at a cost of $95,160 per year for protection by the sheriff's office, and which the council made contingent upon the city of Bessemer also renewing the same sister service;

-Appoint Jim Anderson as a council representative on the Gogebic County Forestry and Parks Commission;

-File an invitation to attend the Capital Conference 2018, to be held March 20 and 21 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, owing to the inability of any city representatives to attend;

-Advertise open positions on the Wakefield Housing Commission;

-Place a surplus utility line truck that cannot currently pass inspection for electrical work on a $5,000 minimum bid in an "as is" status.

Upcoming city meetings are as follows:

The city council will meet next on March 12 at 5:30 p.m.

The Wakefield planning commission also will meet on March 12 at 4:30 p.m.

The board of review organizational meeting will be on March 5 from 3 to 5 p.m.

A public hearing regarding a proposed increase in water rates will be included in the city council's March 26 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m.


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