ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Water tower restoration project to receive COVID-19 relief funds

The Brainerd City Council agreed to commit $200,000 to window and stair repairs on the tower.

Water tower roof
Construction began in October 2022 to put a roof on Brainerd's historic water tower.
Contributed / City of Brainerd
We are part of The Trust Project.

BRAINERD — A chunk of Brainerd’s COVID-19 relief funds will go to restoring the city’s historic water tower.

Brainerd City Council members agreed Monday, Dec. 5, to allocate $200,000 of its money from the American Rescue Plan Act to fix the windows and stairs on the 100-year-old structure.

Paul Skogen, chair of the water tower preservation committee, made the request at Monday night’s Personnel and Finance Committee meeting after updating members on the tower’s roof construction.

“We have finished the roof, so the water tower is not going anywhere,” Skogen said. “The water tower is structurally sound from the base on up.”

The new roof on top of the tower is designed to combat the decades of water intrusion in the bowl and prevent any further damage. While the roof is on, the project is not quite complete, as Skogen said grouting still needs to happen on the columns at the base of the tower, along with minor clean up to the inside and some paint touch up on Breen & Person Law Office, which sustained minor damage during the construction.

ADVERTISEMENT

Coming in at about $385,000 the roof was part of the first phase of restoration efforts on the tower. Because the cost was higher than expected , the other part of phase 1 — fixing up the stairs and windows — had to be postponed. Those items are estimated to cost about $200,000, for which Skogen and the committee requested the relief funds from the city.

“The stairs and the windows are over 100 years old, and they are deteriorating, and if you were in the tower and you looked at all the stuff, you can see rust on the stairs. You can see rain leaking through the windows, and they are in need of repair,” Skogen said.

More Brainerd City Council coverage
If allowed, alcohol sales and consumption would be limited to permitted events in the parks.
The policy would include temperature and directional light restrictions.
City staff will bring forth revisions in terms of dealing with long grass, unshoveled sidewalks, garbage and animal feces.
The measure affects Brainerd's residentially zoned neighborhoods.
The meeting will be at 3 p.m.
Brainerd City Council members favored exemptions for snowblowers from the city's noise ordinance. The mayor disagreed.
Parking will be banned from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20.
Council members directed to staff to draw up ordinance amendments that would allow residents to have four chickens on top of the other pets allowed.
Council members will discuss amendments on the number of pets, including chickens, allowed in the city.
The moratorium prohibiting the demolition of housing units for green space or parking lots in residential areas of the city will extend through mid-April.
The study will determine the feasibility of a pedestrian bridge across Highway 210 near Lum Park.
Kara Terry and Jeff Czeczok took the oath of office for their first term on the Brainerd City Council.
The nonprofit Brainerd Community Action works to connect community members with resources to accomplish their goals.
Parks Board members will talk about the issue at future meetings.
A public hearing for the project is set for the Brainerd City Council meeting on Feb. 21.
Property taxes are likely to go up because of a sharp increase in property values.
A second moratorium on the conversion of dwelling units in four of Brainerd’s zoning districts to green space or parking lots will take effect in mid-January.
Applications are available online or at City Hall.
A split vote shot down the proposal, which would eliminate on-street parking along the stretch of Oak Street.
The board reduced its original request of $400,000 for new lights down to $50,000 for an apparent "Band-Aid" approach.
The ordinance will now go back to the Planning Commission and must go through two readings and a public hearing at the council level before it can be approved.
The Brainerd City Council will set the final levy in December.
The city will use $35,000 of its COVID-19 relief funds for a feasibility study for the bridge.
The City Council approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit the demolition of dwelling units in most of Brainerd's residential neighborhoods, with few exceptions.
The council will have its final budget workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28.
Brainerd City Council members approved several measures last week to further a housing project in west Brainerd.
The grants could provide funding for projects on Washington Street and South Sixth Street, along with a segment of the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.
City council members decided to keep the downtown's special services district in tact for this coming winter but agreed to explore alternative assessment methods for the future.
Jeff Czeczok beat out Justin Grecula for the open at-large seat on the Brainerd City Council.
Gabe Johnson won his third term on the Brainerd City Council representing Ward 4.

Repairs on the 12 windows are budgeted at $115,000, with another $85,000 estimated for the repairs and painting on the stairs inside the tower.When asked about the high cost for the windows, Skogen said the repairs must follow specific guidelines because the tower is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and those specifications come with an added cost. Another portion of the money will go toward putting up scaffolding inside the tower to complete the window work. Skogen said the scaffolding alone costs about $35,000.

Council member Kevin Stunek immediately voiced his support for spending COVID-19 relief funds on the project.

“I’ve supported the water tower from day 1. The roof is fixed. You just made the comment it’s not going anywhere,” he said to Skogen, “and I’d hate to leave a project unfinished, so I would support this totally.”

The council unanimously approved the funds Monday, with Jamie Bieser absent. Skogen said the tower committee can now work to bid the project, and he hopes to have the work completed by fall 2023.

“We do appreciate the support,” Skogen said. “The tower is not going anywhere. It is a symbol of Brainerd. People have supported us big time. So nice to see that the tower is going to be there forever.”

The next phase of work includes a study to determine what kinds of repairs need to be done on the tower’s exterior stucco , which has fallen off in chunks in recent years.

ADVERTISEMENT

COVID-19 relief funds

The city of Brainerd received $1,468,097.58 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recover Funds as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The latest allocation of $200,000 to the tower leaves the city with $138,097.58. The council previously allocated $80,000 to Main Street revitalization grants , $575,000 to parks projects, $300,000 to capital equipment expenses in 2023, $140,000 to a new heating and cooling system at the Police Department and $35,000 for a feasibility study for a pedestrian bridge over Highway 210/Washington Street.The city must obligate the funds by the end of 2024 and use them by the end of 2026.

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

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
What To Read Next
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 10:11 a.m. of a vehicle on fire inside a detached garage at a residence in Shell River Township near Menahga.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 7:59 a.m. of the crash, which occurred on Highway 71 just north of Hewitt.
According to the sheriff’s office, the man said he was riding his Arctic Cat Firecat F7 snowmobile on the trail when he went around a corner and struck a tree head-on.
The sheriff’s office received a 911 call reporting the fatal crash at 4:55 p.m. Saturday on 72nd Street Southwest in Byron Township near Staples.