Engineering firm recommends expensive improvements for government center

SEH Inc., an engineering firm Chisago County hired to perform an assessment of its facilities, recently produced a report that recommends millions of dollars in maintenance work be performed on the Chisago County Government Center.

County Administrator Bruce Messelt told the Chisago County Board of Commissioners April 17 that SEH proposes the county spend $4.7 million to make needed fixes to the government center.

Just last year, the chiller system in the 1973 center — an addition was built in 1989 — failed twice, resulting in substantial flooding.

The roof also needs to be repaired, the heating system is malfunctioning and other fixes need to be made to keep the building operational.

Messelt said the recommended $4.7 million is simply to bring the building up to current standards.

“This report assumes that we are not improving the facility to beyond what it is,” he said. “We’re not talking about taking a class B building and putting it into a class A category.”

Messelt explained SEH has a scale it uses to determine if office buildings can be improved via construction, or if they should simply be abandoned. The abandonment threshold is 0.5; the Chisago County Government Center is at a 0.33.

“We’re in a good position to discuss how much we’re going to invest into this asset to maintain it,” he said.

After Messelt and Chisago County Building Maintenance Supervisor Jon Thompson finished their report on the status of the Government Center, the board unanimously voted to allow county staff to solicit construction and engineering firms to perform the recommended work.

After those firms submit proposals to the county board, the board will then make a determination about which projects need to be done and when.

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