Douglas County Board Chairman Keith Englund expected there would be more people at an open house at the property at 822 Douglas Street last week.

The property, formerly First Lutheran Church, was purchased by the county more than a year ago.

“Not a lot of people showed up,” said Englund at the Tuesday, Aug. 18, regular board meeting. “Most were previous church members who didn’t want the building torn down.”

At the previous county board meeting, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, County Coordinator Schlangen was directed to ask the architectural firm, Buetow 2 Architects Inc., of Minneapolis, to draw up some blueprints for what the space could look like and that when those drawings were done, the board would set a date for the open house,

It was expected that the open house wouldn’t happen for about a month.

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However, the board apparently didn’t wait for the drawings and went ahead with the open house on Aug. 13.

At the Aug. 18 board meeting, Commissioner Jerry Rapp asked about the drawings, noting that although it would cost the county some money – possibly up to $40,000 – the drawings would be beneficial as then the documents could be used for the county to go out for bids to get a better understanding of what the costs would actually be to remodel the church.

At this point, the county has only received estimates.

In June 2019, JLG Architects provided a rough estimate of between $4.3 million and $5.2 million to renovate the church into space for what would have been used by the Social Services department.

Plans for the building have since changed and the estimate, which Englund noted at the Aug.4 meeting, came in at about $3.8 million.

After further discussion, the commissioners approved spending money on the documents so that they can go out for bids to find out the actual costs for remodeling the property. The formal motion was made by Commissioner Charlie Meyer and seconded by Rapp with it being approved by a vote of 5-0.

In other action

After a closed session regarding the possible purchase of property on Lake Ida, formerly known as Pilgrim Point, the commissioners, while back in session, approved hiring Scott Johnston from Johnston Law Office to assist in the possible real estate negotiations and transaction. No further information was provided, but a formal agreement is expected to be presented to the commissioners at the Sept. 1 board meeting.