Bellanca Building at Alexandria Airport receives renovation approval

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The Alexandria City Council has accepted a bid of US$20,935 from Masters Plumbing to renovate the Bellanca Building at the airport by installing new fixtures in all five bathrooms, including new toilets, urinals, sinks, and pipes. The plumbing will be touchless, which matches the other city buildings that were upgraded using COVID-19 relief funds. The plumbing upgrades are part of a US$362,000 renovation the city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are doing at the Bellanca Building, which was once used to manufacture Bellanca aircraft. The city and state are sharing the costs equally.

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The overall project also includes roof repair, demolishing the office area, and removing hazardous materials. The goal of the renovation is to fix the building up in the next few years so it can be rented out to tenants. In an effort to better control costs and efficiency, Alexandria is also considering a new “fleet management program” for the vehicles city departments purchase. City Administrator Marty Schultz told the council that the underfunding of equipment funds began with the fiscal crisis of 2008 and created a situation where many of the vehicles were used beyond a useful age.

For the 12th time since the pandemic began, the council extended its declaration of a local emergency because of COVID-19. The city first ratified the mayor’s declaration on March 18 last year and has been extending it monthly. This latest action extends it through April 30 – unless Gov. Tim Walz lets his executive order declaring the emergency expire before that date. The declaration allows the city to approve emergency ordinances that take effect immediately and provides greater flexibility, such as holding meetings through Zoom video conferencing. It’s separate from Walz’s executive orders for restrictions on restaurants and other businesses.