County community center design choice may exclude city from planning process

Commissioner Sue Hakes
Commissioner Sue Hakes

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The Cook County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to select an architect for the new community center project. ORB Management, the firm hired to supervise the community center construction made a recommendation and the board agreed to their choice. Commissioner and former mayor Sue Hakes:

Hakes: Tom Wacholz, from ORB Management, came before the County Board and presented the recommendation that the Steering Committee came up with and is fully supported by ORB Management to enter into an agreement with an architect, and that architect is Meyer Group out of Duluth, and they’re working in partnership with JLG Architecture. So, it was two firms actually that had submitted an RFP to us in partnership. So, the County Board voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with them.

The decision will affect the participation of the City of Grand Marais in community center planning. Due to previous work on the city‘s municipal pool, Grand Marais is still under contract with Burbach Aquatics, and could face a lawsuit if the pool is designed by another firm.

Hakes: The architect of record will be Meyer Group and they have proposed a slate of designers, design firms, architect firms for the various firms: landscape, for example, electric, mechanical, structural, and one of those being the aquatics. And, we are accepting their recommendations to use those various firms and the aquatics firm that they would like to work with is Water Technologies, and so Water Technologies, working with JLG and Meyer Group, will be doing the design portion for the aquatics center and the pool.

This effectively excludes the city from the community center planning process because the new pool would be an integral part of the center complex.

Hakes: Well, Mike Roth was at our meeting today. He’s the city administrator, of course, and he reiterated that because of that decision the City Council wanted to just make sure that the County Board understood that the city of Grand Marais will not be able to participate in the project under the current circumstances. But, from the County Board’s perspective, we’re hopeful that they can rectify this situation in some fashion, and there’s always an open seat for them. In fact, we formalized the Steering Committee and we made that very clear that there is always a membership opening for the city of Grand Marais should they decide to come back and participate with us.

Hakes has been named chair of the Community Center Steering Committee. She said the board also agreed to consider using ORB Management to oversee all projects in addition to the community center that are funded with one percent sales tax money.


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