The basement was slated for storage space only, utilized primarily by the police department, with some space reserved for city administration. Council members did not take the change lightly though, with several stern warnings coming from them that expressed concern over the project straying from what was presented to voters in August.
Mayor Dennis Berry said he was disappointed that the original concept and design were not the same, saying he understood they had cut construction costs to get back to budget, but wanted to know if design fees had been cut as well since they were inaccurate. Field did not directly answer Berry, but instead explained that the "at-risk" construction process they were utilizing would require changes to the construction plans, as detailed pricing was made available. He said that the process offered that information at a much earlier phase than other approaches, making it available during the planning and design phase, rather than when it was too late to do anything other than increase cost.
"One of the big things we sold voters on was an increase in space for the police station," said Councilman Aaron Kircher, who was concerned that eliminating police storage space in the basement would hinder that. Chief of Police Isaac Brown said that with removal of the basement, his department would gain storage space upstairs as well as on the main floor, "and we would have storage space at Memorial Auditorium just across the street."
Brown said he was confident the new plan was just as functional as the previous one, saying it was no better or worse, just different.
Brown also explained that in the initial plan the basement was added as it was believed to be an inexpensive way to add storage space. He said that as the process evolved it was determined to be very expensive storage space and said that they had also initially planned for more storage space than was needed.
In the end, confidence in the new plans that was expressed by city department heads ultimately lead to council members supporting the changes. Councilman Mike Gonzales said that if they were willing to go to bat for the product, he was confident it was still on track. "I believe they know the building they want," said Gonzales.
Although the changes to the preliminary floor plans were eventually accepted by council members, it was made very clear to both the architects and construction manager involved in the project, that council members were not at all interested in allowing the project to stray off course. Specifically in regards to its budget, but also with respect to what was presented to voters last fall.
Council members also approved the $10,239 change order to the Norris Park band shell restoration project. Public works director Kyle Potthoff explained that the cost increase of the project was caused by contractors determining the removal of asbestos containing shingles would be necessary. The initial plan was to leave the existing shingles in place, sealing them by painting over them. Potthoff said he didn't foresee any additional change orders being necessary for the $169,996 renovation project, which is anticipated to be completed in August.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda;
* The 10 year lease agreement with McCookNet Internet Service was approved by councillors. The company leases space on the east and west water towers for antennas it has installed, paying the city $300 per month. Councilman Kircher asked that a separate agreement be drafted that detailed the release of the city website domain name, which McCookNet agreed to provide free of charge as part of the extension.
* Council members directed city staff to abate nuisance issues pertaining to three properties, located at 107 South 7th Street, 202 South Street and Willow Grove Precinct 30-3-29 PT SW/4SE .70 Acre in Red Willow County. The properties were previously deemed to have nuisance abatement issues by the McCook Board of Health. Chief Brown told the council that in all three cases the structures on the properties were in such deteriorated and poor condition that demolition was the only viable option.
* Pinpoint Communications was authorized to occupy city right of way to install underground telephone lines. The installation will begin 60 feet east of the intersection of north U.S. Highway 83 and West Q Street, continuing to the east for 425 feet, according to their request.
* Councillors approved an agreement between the Nebraska Department of Roads and the city of McCook pertaining to a $980,900 regrading and repaving project. The project is scheduled to take place in 2013 and includes portions of East 7th Street, Seminole, East H Street and Park Avenue.
* The request from McCook National Bank to close the alley between Norris Avenue and West First Street, from West C Street to the bank parking lot, on June 22, 2011, was approved. The closure will be from noon to 7 p.m. for a kids celebration.
* City clerk Lea Ann Doak was appointed as the city's representative on the Reward board of directors. Doak will fill the position vacated by former city manager Kurt Fritsch.
* The agreement between the city and the Nebraska Department of Roads, which outlines details surrounding the purchase a 2011 Dodge Caravan lowered floor mini-van was approved. The $33,652 vehicle will be utilized by the Heritage Senior Center.
* A special liquor license for Schmick's Market, who will be hosting a beer garden in their parking lot as part of a July concert, was approved.