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City Council discusses Transit Bus Barn expansion

The Lennox City Council met Monday, March 25 to discuss agenda items including

City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats added a street sweeper discussion to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting as more information had become available since the last meeting. 

“Brian Lether came to us a couple of weeks ago with a number of proposals for a new street sweeper. Despite our best efforts, I don’t think we’re going to find a way to exempt ourselves out of the bid requirements, so we are working on putting a bid packet together on this. We didn’t want to wait two weeks on this though, and if we could get it out this week or early next week instead of waiting two weeks to publish, we’d like to do that,” Vander Plaats said. 

Vander Plaats was seeking a motion to publish the bid with the City Attorney’s approval. Motion approved.

The Community Transit of Watertown and Sisseton, Inc. (CTWSI) has been working on an expansion of the current Lennox Transit Bus Barn located in Westerman Park. 

“Back in December of 2019, transit requested some general support from the city to proceed with a building expansion and requested assistance in the completion of the categorical exclusion process. At that time, the plan was to add a bay on both the East and West sides of the building and the council voted to support the building expansion at that meeting. Back in early December, I met with Transit to discuss site plans and shared that I was hesitant to support it because it encroached a little too far East and didn’t leave enough room between the buildings there for what we needed. We met again in February with the DOT staff as well and reiterated those concerns and DOT is worried about the timeline for completing the project. We’re all worried about increased design costs if they need to go back to the drawing board as well,” Vander Plaats said. 

This is a cost-share project with 80 percent of the funds coming from the DOT and 20 percent local cost share.  

Representatives from CTWSI presented information to the board via video conference. Representatives discussed the condition of the current building and reported to the alderman the building is referred to as cold storage meaning there is no water, insulation, and a concrete floor. 

Alderman Chad Reilly asked members how they came up with the $380/sq. foot figure for the updates and compared the cost to a high-end luxury custom home price. 

Representatives told Reilly they would look into the other locations and check with the engineers on how they got the pricing. Reilly also asked if CTWSI was required to use the Federal Grant Program. 

The representatives stated they did not need to use the Federal Grant, but they had not looked into other options without the grant. A motion to table the conversation was made and the Council agreed to make a decision sooner than later, but needed more time to review all their options.

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