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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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City seeks funds for Sobieski shelter (10/09/2013)
By Chris Rogers

The long-closed bathroom building at Winona’s Sobieski Park, on East Sanborn Street, may be replaced using a combination of city funds and private donations. After the East End neighborhood group expressed interest in funding a new bathroom and shelter building if the city would prepare the site, council members directed city staff to search the city coffers for $104,000 to fund demolition of the old building, including costly asbestos removal, and engineering for a new structure.

“We’ve got a building that’s been locked up for maybe 30 years,” said East End neighborhood group member Steve “Boomer” Zolondek. Having porta-pottis serve as long-term park bathrooms “is really not a good image of our city.” The new 2,700-square-foot building would include bathrooms, outdoor picnic tables and an interior space that could be rented, he explained.

“It’s a great idea,” said council member Gerry Krage. His colleagues agreed, but had important questions, as well.

“Where would $104,000 come from if it’s not in the budget?” asked council member Michelle Alexander.

“That’s the largest question,” acknowledged Park and Recreation Community Services Director Chad Ubl. At the direction of the council, city staff will bring funding options forward; however, Ubl suggested that if staff could not find an agreeable funding proposal, the council may need to discuss whether those funds would need to be raised privately. Let us see the proposal and then we can talk about that, if necessary, Krage suggested.

Another important question is how the city, fundraisers, and contractors will relate legally. Staff suggested an arrangement that is slightly different from past shelter projects in which all funds for the project had to be in hand before work began. Under the proposed arrangement, contractors would post a performance bond guaranteeing the project and allowing fundraising efforts to continue while work begins. As with past projects, competitive bidding laws would apply; however, unlike under past arrangements, contractors could include donated materials and labor in their bids. The neighborhood group indicated that contractors are willing to make donations of that sort.

Broken World Records fined

Broken World Records bar was fined $300 by the city council for allowing alcohol consumption after hours. Owner William Challeen was cited by Winona Police officers after they reported seeing him and an employee drinking beers in the bar at 2:42 a.m. on July 5. A city ordinance bans the consumption of alcohol at bars after 1:30 a.m. Challeen pled guilty in a petty misdemeanor case and was fined $146 by county judges.

Challeen told the council that he alone was drinking and asked for them to waive additional fines. Assistant Police Chief Tom Williams noted that Challeen had been cooperative, which was much better than the last after-hours consumption case in which employees of Cheater’s Bar hid from police for nearly three hours, and officers had to wake up a judge to issue a search warrant.

“For a simple mistake it gets pretty expensive,” Krage acknowledged as the council announced the fine. “We’re certainly aware of that, but this is just for consistency.” The $300 fine is consistent with city policy’s recommended fine for first time offenses.

Masonic Temple structural study approved

The council voted unanimously to approve a grant application for a Historic Structure Report on the Masonic Temple. If awarded, the grant would provide up to $10,000 for a examination of the building’s integrity. The city would be required to match up to $25,000. 


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