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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

home : news : news April 24, 2015

2/20/2014 3:39:00 PM
Council meets with manor owner to talk over property's future

Six months after informing him by certified mail of animal infestation and structural concerns at his South Center Manor property, Center City council members and City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer were able to meet with land owner Larry Merhiy, of Blaine. Merhiy and council members noted there are mixed feelings on whether the “Manor,” which opened as a Park Island resort-hotel more than 100 years ago and later served as a group home for disabled adults, should be restored or removed.

“I think there are still a lot of people in this town who would be thrilled if it could be saved,” said council member Mark Wolcott. However, the city has received confirmation from consulting engineers that the building is structurally unsound and the city has boarded up the doorways and windows. Merhiy, who bought the lot in 2008, said that resale would have been part of his plan before restoration. “I need to get it taken down, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he told the council. As for the building’s deterioration, “it was that way when I bought it,” he added. “I don’t think it’s any more of a hazard now than it was ten years ago.” The building became vacant in 2003. The city council shared one demolition quote from an area contractor of $39,900, not including abatement of any asbestos or other hazardous materials.

Merhiy replied that was more than he could afford. Wolcott said that because of extra costs that are always charged to governmental units, Merhiy likely could find lower quotes if he would make the effort for himself. The land owner asked whether the building could be suitable for a controlled burn and fire response training by the city’s firefighters. The building value can be considered a donation in that scenario. City Engineer Les Mateffy replied that extra costs would come from moving power lines, building temporary walls to protect neighboring lots on the peninsula, and also rerouting traffic on Highway 8 near the site. “There’s been a fair amount of research done on it,” council member Scott Anderson said of a fire razing. Merhiy described himself as a “procrastinator” but vowed that he would respond more quickly to future correspondence from the city if queries came by phone or email rather than in envelopes, which tend to stack, he said.

He pledged that before the council’s meeting in March, he would call an exterminator and also the Becklin and Whitney engineering firm separately for a quote on stabilizing a support beam which was identified as the greatest concern. If and when the building is taken down safely, Wolcott advised Merhiy that parts of the century-old building could bring the owner some revenue to offset his costs. “There are salvage contractors that like those old, heavy timbers,” Wolcott said. Other city business Council approved expenses for one of the city’s clerks, Terrie Trudeau, to attend one day of an upcoming Minnesota Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association conference in St. Cloud. The other city clerk, Norma Anderson, will represent Center City at three days of the conference including two nights’ lodging.

Seminars will include instruction on election training, computer software and technology, sales tax, personnel management and social media policies. Council also approved expenses for Anderson and Public Works Superintendent Eric Garner to attend a one-day safety and loss control workshop, hosted by the League of Minnesota Cities. – Council approved an expense of $860 to buy a welder and cart for general repair and maintenance use by the public works department. – With Mayor Jill Behnke excused from the February meeting, council and staff arranged for a visit from Lindstrom city officials to happen in March. City officials are considering contracting for a study on merging services and personnel with Lindstrom, Chisago City and Chisago Lake Township.

Six months after informing him by certified mail of animal infestation and structural concerns at his South Center Manor property, Center City council members and City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer were able to meet with land owner Larry Merhiy, of Blaine. Merhiy and council members noted there are mixed feelings on whether the “Manor,” which opened as a Park Island resort-hotel more than 100 years ago and later served as a group home for disabled adults, should be restored or removed.





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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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