Relocation options during construction discussed

Photo by Barbie Porter
Frazee City Councilmen Mark Flemmer (from left), Mark Kemper and Mike Sharp discussed options for temporary relocation of the police department, if construction plans for a new office were to be approved.

By Barbie Porter

Editor 

An addition to Frazee City Hall is under review, and may provide more office space for the clerks, as well a new police precinct.

The topic of expansion came about after the Frazee City Council hired a third employee for the city office. Andrea Froeber recently joined Deputy Clerk Nancy Kiehl and City Administrator Jordin Roberts. Froeber will take on the responsibility of answering the phone, providing pet licensing, greeting visitors and other clerical duties.

It should be noted when the former Administrator Denise Anderson retired,  it was stated at a council meeting the wage difference between Anderson and the new administrator (Roberts) allowed for a third person to be hired without increasing the clerk budget, and there was some cushion for wage growth.

When discussion began about hiring a third person for the clerk office this past summer, the topic of utilizing the current police department office for the new clerk was also pitched to the council. The current clerk’s office is reportedly crowded with three employees.

The new clerk assistant would be stationed in the current police department office, which is located near the entrance of city hall. The space would be remodeled to fit the assistant clerk’s needs.

The Frazee City Council hosted a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28 to dive into details of a potential police precinct office relocation with Chief Tyler Trieglaff. 

Trieglaff said he was happy with the current office, but added if a change was needed that he preferred the construction be done with the least disruption as possible.

Officer Ryan Seeger provided the council with options for turning either one, or both garage bays, into the new precinct. The plans provided space for a utility room, evidence room, a designated area for processing evidence and a desk for the officers to complete paperwork and interviews. Some drawings provided separate entrances into the precinct and other options would use the future assistant clerk’s office as a hallway to the precinct.

Trieglaff expressed the need to retain one garage space for “thawing” patrol cars in the winter, as well as secure storage as needed with cases. 

The council discussed placing a wall to separate the stalls, as well as sealing off one garage door from the inside. It was noted the garages have in-floor heat as well as an overhead heating vent. 

The exterior the building would remain the same, if the plan discussed is what the council goes with. The idea was if a garage was added in the future, the door could be used and then a new facade would be put on the exterior of the building.

While installing a few walls to convert a garage bay into a living space sounds simple enough for a do-it-yourself weekend job, nothing is that simple when it comes to city government. There are rules the city government must follow, as well as building requirements for a commercial (or public) office. Trieglaff recommended having the city building inspector glance at the plans.

While a contractor had offered to tackle the job this year for a reasonable price, the council discussed bidding out the renovation work to get the best price.

The city hall is also reviewing options for updating its heating, venting and air conditioning system, and it was noted adding improvements to the new precinct office could be done at the same time. 

Several times during the meeting Trieglaff asked the council to commit to a long-term goal of expanding the police office to replace the garage stall the department is losing. Trieglaff recommended expanding toward the alley and having a new garage access off that road.

“I don’t want to downsize,” he said.

The council spoke in favor of the addition. 

While renovations take place, the council reviewed temporary relocation options for the police office, including the basement of city hall, the rescue garage and fire hall. 

Seeger said there would be logistical issues by using the basement, such as securing windows. When the idea of one of the clerks utilizing the basement  was pitched, it was noted Roberts could do that, but there may be issues for some residents to get up and down the stairs. The rescue garage also had concerns, as all rescue members would need to approve and utilizing the space would essentially cut the rescue members off from the meeting room, as the police often deal with issues that require data privacy be protected.

Sharing or utilizing an office in the fire hall was mentioned in passing, but discussion was not pursued.

Another idea was to keep the police office in place until the new one is ready, and then shift construction into the additional clerk space. Treigaff noted that way the police department would only have to move once.

While the relocation was not nailed down to a final decision, the council agreed to get bids for the complete remodel first, and determine how long the work would take to complete.