City to study bond projects totaling $5M
City officials want to get their ducks in a row before asking Moorhead voters to approve at least $5 million in capital projects. The City Council backed plans to hire consultants to study a new or expanded library and a third fire station at its...
City officials want to get their ducks in a row before asking Moorhead voters to approve at least $5 million in capital projects.
The City Council backed plans to hire consultants to study a new or expanded library and a third fire station at its study session meeting Monday.
While they have made no concrete plans, council members have talked about including a bond referendum with November's city election.
The bond would cover multiple projects for which the city has not found a way to pay.
"I think we sell it to the voters and say, 'This is an unusual, once-in-25-years expenditure,'" said Councilwoman Diane Wray Williams.
At the very least, the bond election would include renovations planned at the Moorhead Sports Center and a library expansion, said City Manager Bruce Messelt.
City estimates for the two projects combined range from $5 million to $13 million.
The referendum could also include money for two regional parks and a third fire station, though the city could pay for the station in other ways, Messelt said.
The sports center improvements would cost about $2.8 million, according to a city consultant.
That includes a new ice system and nearly 800 new permanent seats for the south rink, renovation of the toilets and concession areas and remodeling of the north rink, said Recreation Manager Holly Heitkamp.
It does not include a removable floor for the south rink, which would allow the facility to host events that do not involve skating. That could bump the price tag over $3 million.
The renovation plans could be affected by a study under way to determine what sports facilities the Fargo-Moorhead area needs.
Councilman Jim Danielson said the council should use the study - due to be done in August - to see how the sports center fits in a regional plan.
"I hope we'll stop thinking in terms of whether this is good for Moorhead," he said.
Initial estimates for a new or expanded library range from $2 million to $8 million.
The range is wide because officials are not sure whether the library can expand at its current location or needs a new building.
Built in 1961 and expanded in 1988, the existing facility barely has enough room for summer youth programs and lacks the capacity to add more computers, said Library Director Anne Fredine.
"We're pushing the limits of what we can do in that building," she said.
The library study is expected to cost about $10,000, which is also the estimated price for a study determining if, when and where the city needs to build a third fire station.
Moorhead is looking at building a third station in the near future but wants to make sure it picks a location that matches the city's growth patterns.
A new station is expected to cost between $2 million and $3 million, according to city estimates.
Both studies still need to be formally approved by the council. The results, along with those from the sports facility study, should be ready by late summer, Messelt said.
That should give the city enough time to decide whether to place a referendum on November's ballot, which would need to done in September, he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535