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Mitchell city hall proposal builds momentum

Mayor Ken Tracy

Mayor Ken Tracy said the city is negotiating for property to build a new city hall and the city is "reasonably close to closing the deal."

Tracy, speaking Thursday to the Mitchell Rotary Club at the Ramada, discussed several proposed projects that are being considered by city leadership. The proposals include an addition to the existing hockey arena, a new library, a renovation of the Corn Palace and various plans to move city hall to an existing building or simply start from scratch.

The proposals presented by the mayor aren't new, but he offered updates on each. Although his 30-minute speech mostly rehashed his public plans, the city hall project appears to be picking up steam.

He told the Rotary Club that the city hall proposal includes moving city offices to the former Mitchell Technical Institute campus near Mitchell High School or building new. The MTI plan appears to be fading, Tracy indicated, adding that he and others have looked at "quite a number of existing properties."

Criteria for the proposal mandate that a new location have at least 15,000 square feet, that it be located near downtown if possible, and that it include ample parking.

"We started looking at locations where we could build a new (city hall) and narrowed down some property that is large enough and located in the downtown corridor that would fit all three criteria," he said. "We are currently negotiating and reasonably close to closing the deal.

"If so, I think it's going to be the wish of the council to move forward building a new city hall rather than relocating at Mitchell Tech."

Original blueprints called for a price tag of about $3.4 million. Tracy said that was too pricy, and the project was pared back to about $2.6 million. He said the council is waiting for updated plans that include a scaled-back version.

"I think we are going to try to move forward with that project and at the same time that would free up some space that we could utilize for renovation to the Corn Palace," the mayor said, referring to the existing city hall attached to the Corn Palace's north side.

He said the top complaint about city hall plans is that most Mitchell residents want city offices to remain somewhere in the main business district.

"Location, location, location," he said. "... It's (a comment) that's been voiced rather strongly."