Jesse Thomas, Rice County Sheriff asked Commissioners today during a Committee of the Whole Work Session to approve fencing for the south side of the new Public Safety Building.

The County Board has already voted to construct the building on the north side of Faribault just off Highway 3 where an outdoor movie theater used to be located.

Sheriff Thomas pointed out in recent years there have been a number of incidents of civil unrest in Minnesota.

Parks and Facilities Department Director Matthew Verdick presented four options to commissioners for their consideration.  No fencing on the south side (front) of the property.  A decorative metal fence estimated to cost $96,000.  A decorative metal fence with concrete base estimated to be $255,000 and a decorative metal face with pillars estimated to cost between $35,000 and $400,000.

No formal vote is taken during work sessions but commissioners generally indicated they were not opposed to a fence outlining the property line.  There is a fence for the back of the building already in the plans that includes razor ribbon on top.

Commissioners indicated they wanted to wait until later in the process to determine if the dollars are available to include the $255,000 option.

Commissioners also discussed the four options concerning the north block in downtown Faribault where a majority of the properties are owned by Rice County.

Options include:

  • Upgrade current former Woolen Mill building and demolish all other buildings in the block owned by the county except the Law Enforcement Center/Jail.  Estimated cost $6.6 million dollars.
  • Tear down all county owned buildings in the block except the LEC/Jail and plant turf.  Estimated cost $572,000.
  • Razing county owned buildings except the LEC/Jail and putting a parking lot there.  Estimated cost just over a million dollars.
  • Demolish county owned buildings except LEC/Jail and leave the block vacant for a period of time accepting offers from developers about their vision for the sites.  Estimated cost $517,000.

Commissioner Jim Purfeerst shared his thoughts with colleagues.

Commissioner Steve Underdahl said the county would not be out anything if they listened to proposals for the property.

Verdick explained if developers would request a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) be established in that block a decision would have to be made within three years of razing the buildings.

Asbestos removal and demolition bids will be presented at next week's County Board Meeting Tuesday, April 12, 2022.  Verdick added a couple other buildings will be included in the demolition bid.

The home next to the Rice County Historical Society Museum is partially on county property and it was determined to be cheaper for the county to purchase the property than to litigate a remedy for the problem.

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