As a renovation project at Brainerd City Hall moves along, a new plan is in the works to repair the building’s front steps.

City staff reported to the Brainerd City Council Monday, July 6, the interior of the building is nearly complete after offices were remodeled and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was installed. Now the focus turns toward the exterior of the century old building.

The original plans for the front steps called for a simple tuckpoint, City Engineer Paul Sandy told the council. Tuckpointing involves removing a portion of deteriorated brickwork, filling the joints with new mortar and applying a thin line of putty down the center of the joint. The main issue with the stairs is a lack of a solid foundation, which has caused water infiltration that led to shifting during freeze/thaw cycles.

But Sandy said Monday the original plan will likely not resolve all the issues with the stairs, which include unevenness, the slippery texture and overall aesthetics.

Sandy proposed two plans to the council Monday. The first includes removing the granite stairs, providing a solid foundation and then pouring concrete stairs. Crews would then cut the granite into smaller slabs to place on top of the stairs. That option is estimated to cost about $92,000.

The second option is to refinish the existing granite to be the main portion of the staircase and then put a concrete exposed aggregate covering over the top. Essentially, Sandy said, the difference between the two options is where the granite is on the steps. That option is estimated to cost about $102,000.

Under either plan, the steps would retain their historic granite look.

“We've gone through so much to redo the interior of city hall, and we really wanted to make sure that the front steps — or the entrance into city hall — is kind of a focal point and that it really outlines the city's care for its historic building,” Sandy said.

Before that work can continue, though, work needs to be done to figure out what kind of foundation the current staircase has and what structural modifications need to be made.

Kevin Currie, project manager with Contegrity Group, said Baratto Brothers Construction has agreed to do the exploratory work, the cost of which he said would come out of the project’s budget. After that exploratory work, the council can further discuss the two options and fine-tune the scope of work and final cost.

With the scope of work on the steps originally budgeted at $18,000, Council President Gabe Johnson asked why staff wasn’t aware at the time the work would end up being much more expensive. Mike Angland, of Widesth, said more problems arose since the original plan was made in 2018 with more freezing/thawing cycles, which further affected the stairs.

There is still $184,023 in the project’s contingency fund, meaning the increased price would be covered.

“I think it’s a no-brainer to do the best job we can on the stairs, being that really this project started by us saying we need to fix the stairs and the HVAC, so we should at least get those two done right,” Johnson said.

The council agreed to have the exploratory work done and discuss the project further at the next regular meeting July 20.

In other business Monday, the council:

Approved lawful gambling applications from Minnesota Trappers Association and the Brainerd Fire Department Relief Association for events Aug. 1 and Dec. 7, respectively.

Approved an event application for a produce pop-up pantry from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 27 on Mississippi Parkway at Central Lakes College.

Approved an event application from the Brainerd Jaycees for the annual Street Fest event Sept. 11-12, closing Front Street between South Sixth and Eighth streets, provided all state health guidelines set forth at the time are met. The council also approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for the event.

Approved an event application from Brainerd Early Childhood Family Education for the annual Touch-a-Truck event Oct. 3 on Laurel Street between South Sixth and South Eighth streets, and South Seventh Street between Front and Maple streets.

Accepted the retirement of paid on-call firefighter Barry Sell, effective July 31.

Accepted the retirement of Brainerd Police Officer Troy Schreifels, effective Aug. 16.

Authorized the use of $1,037 of drug forfeiture funds for a Microsoft Surface 3 laptop for the police lieutenant position.

Accepted the resignation of street maintenance employee Seth Greenwaldt, effective July 9.

Approved a change order for $5,500 for water main work on the recent northeast Brainerd reconstruction project.

Appointed Kevin Yeager to the city’s charter commission.

Authorized an agreement with HRGreen for a citywide hydraulic and hydrologic model study for $70,000. This expense was budgeted for 2020 and will come from the storm sewer fund. This study will determine where potential flooding may occur in the city and help the city to mitigate future risks through a deeper understanding of its hydraulic system.

Accepted a bid from Knife River Corp. for $66,073 for final lift work on the Old Stonebridge Trail project. The city budgeted $80,000 for the project.

Approved a request from All Fried Up food truck to operate outside the old Papa John’s location at 400 Washington St.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.