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Menahga Council to hire architect for nursing home building expansion

An architect will be part of the pre-planning process for the proposed Greenwood Connections building expansion project.

The Menahga City Council along with the Greenwood Connections Advisory Board interviewed three firms Thursday and will vote during Monday's council meeting to bring Helenske Design Group on board.

Following the interviews, Mayor Tom Larson suggested consulting with the city's financial advisors to see if the city is capable of building a $2 to $4 million project.

He said the project wouldn't be a burden and it would pay off, but just to get a feel of what the city can afford at this point, contacting the city's auditor and accountant as soon as possible would be a good idea.

The top three firms that were invited back for second interviews were Ringdahl Architects, JP Structures and Helenske.

All three were asked questions about the steps they take in the pre-planning process, fees, the most cost-effective approach and access to grant writing.

It was important to the council that the firm they select wouldn't charge for pre-planning of the designs or budgets.

Helenske said it would work with the community and the council to come up with designs and a floor plan that would fit the facility's needs. The firm would also work with other organizations to budget for the project.

The other architecture firm Ringdahl, said it would start billing from the start of the pre-planning process, which didn't appeal to the council or advisory board.

And although JP Structures wouldn't charge the city for any pre-planning services, it's a construction management firm that would still have to hire an architect.

Councilwoman Maxine Norman said the presenters stressed the importance of assisted living and assisted living plus in the long-term care industry, which means there is a future for a project like this in Menahga.

"There is a whole lot of planning before making a decision, it can't all be money," she said responding to Larson's comments about consulting with financial advisors. "I don't want to stall the momentum and excitement."

Larson said it's not all about money, but "it's a pretty important piece of it."

He added that he would like to see city administrator Teri Osterman meet with the city's auditors and Greenwood Connections administrator Clair Erickson as soon as possible if this project would start next spring.

"With starting (the planning) this fall, do we have another month to put it off?" Larson asked.

In other business:

The council voted to wave the 30-day waiting period to apply for a gaming permit.

The Menahga Civic & Commerce organizes the fishing derby in February and the midsummer festival in July. The department will now have tickets printed by deer hunting season for next year's fishing derby.