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Asbestos, roof are problems at vacant city of Farmington building

Farmington city council members were wary of putting more money into this vacant, city-owned building at the corner of Third and Spruce streets but voted Monday to go ahead with asbestos removal and repairs to the building's roof.

It's been nearly four years since Farmington's Rambling River Center relocated to its current site on Oak Street. Since the move, very little has happened with the former location on Spruce and Third streets.

The building was up for sale, and the city had an offer to purchase it, but the offer was low and council members turned it down. That leaves the building still vacant, but now work has to be done on it, anyway. And that work could cost nearly $53,000.

Recently, Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad received a limited asbestos survey report from Davis Environmental. The report detailed where asbestos is located in the 6,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1923.

According to Distad, the city received two proposals for removal of the asbestos. The lower bid of $42,998 to abate the asbestos if the building was renovated came from Mavo Systems. The company cited a bid of about $7,000 less to take care of the asbestos if the building were to be demolished.

In addition, the roof on the south side of the building has been damaged by recent storms. The shingles there have curled from the heat. Shingles on the north side are intact, but old. Facility maintenance staff looked into the cost of materials to replace the roof, Distad said, and came up with an estimate of $10,000. That does not include the labor.

Council members have mixed emotions about the repairs.

"I hate sticking any money into it," mayor Todd Larson said. "We're going to stick $60,000 into it and it's going to sit."

One way or another, the asbestos has to be cleaned up, city administrator David McKnight told council members during Monday's workshop. The bigger question, though, was whether or not to put the building back up for sale, or to tear it down.

Council member Julie May wants to see the work done and the building placed back on the market.

"I think there would be interest in it," May said, adding that she would like to see a retail business of some sort in that location.

At this time, according to Distad, there is no funding approved for the repairs. Council would have to allocate funds from the economic development authority fund or the city's general fund in order to pay for the work. The city could recoup the funding if the building is sold, Distad said.

Council directed staff to initiate the cleanup and repairs, but to seek out grants to aid in the funding of the asbestos abatement.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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