Biwabik councilor fights for future of historic building - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Biwabik councilor fights for future of historic building

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In a special city council meeting, Biwabik city councilors have decided to vacate and board up the century-old former city hall.

Biwabik City Councilor Dave Setnicker said he always saw the old city hall as more than a 100-year-old temporary home for their police service.

"People from private enterprises come here just sort of drooling because they see the possibilities for this," he said.

His vision for the building was a hostel for tourists headed to Giants Ridge.

"I, to a point, almost pushed my fellow councilors into a corner and said we need to get a professional study; which we did," he said.

According to that study, which came out earlier this month, the building is fit for possible reuse but that comes with a close to $4 million price tag.

City Administrator Jeff Jacobson, said the more urgent issue, brought up in the study, is the lead paint and other hazardous materials that they now know are in the building.

That's addressed in this meeting.

"The bulk of this resolution is in removing that as a work space and getting them out of there and getting out of that environment," Jacobson said.

The resolution called for the police to vacate the building, and board it up.

The city administrator said that doesn't mean renovation is off the table, but Setnicker was concerned boarding it up dooms the building to a fate much like most of the town's other historic buildings.

"We're in the process, I mean city council of actually, unfortunately demolishing one particularly significant building which is the swimming pool," he said.

Setnicker said with years of city history on the line, his goal was to get the city to slow down.

"We can get a group of people together with city officials and engineers to look at a project that I think we can do," he said. "We can preserve this building."

The council voted on a compromise resolution. They approved the resolution stating the police must vacate the building and find a new residence by Aug. 1 but excluded all language referring to demolition as an option.

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