Litchfield City Hall

City Council meets at City Hall at 126 N. Marshall Ave. (File photo)

Litchfield City Council decided Monday to hire Wold Architects and Engineers to assist the city in assembling a plan for a city wellness/recreation center.

Wold was one of four firms asked by City Administrator David Cziok to reply to a request for proposals to assist with public engagement and making recommendations on work to be done for a wellness/recreation center. The other firms were DeVetter Design Group, Oertel Architects and JLG sport architects.

Based in Minneapolis, Wold Architects and Engineers is well-known for past work with Litchfield Public Schools on a number of building projects. Wold also worked with the city, school district and Meeker County on improvements to Bernie Aaker Auditorium several years ago.

Wold’s response included a price tag of $18,000, which covers planning and programming services, as well as community engagement meetings.

In his reply to the city’s RFP, Wold partner John McNamara highlighted the company’s work with governments in the region, including the Redwood Area Community Center and Senior Center expansion in Redwood Falls, and Hutchinson’s conversion of a grocery store to city facility.

“Over the years, we have had the pleasure of working on many community center projects for both municipalities and school districts,” McNamara wrote. “We firmly believe that our experience in the planning and design of intergenerational community activity centers and school facilities makes Wold an exceptional choice for the City of Litchfield to partner with for this important project.”

Contracting with a firm that is somewhat familiar with the city and school, and that will be able to launch planning quickly was an important factor for some City Council members, who are concerned about the project timeline.

In the RFP, Cziok said the firm chosen to lead the project would need to prepare a plan that identifies recreational amenities, a working budget, rough programming schedule and estimated annual operating budget — all by March 1.

That deadline is important, as the city needs a plan to present to state legislators. The city will be asking for at least $5 million in state bonding money to help fund construction of a wellness/recreation center. In addition, the city will request permission from the Legislature to implement a local option sales tax that also will fund construction. If approved by the Legislature, the sales tax option would be decided with a referendum in November.

The legislative session begins Feb. 11, and state Rep. Dean Urdahl, who attended Monday’s meeting, encouraged the city to continue its work, adding greater detail to its plan and to consider adding more of its own funds.

“Even though I will make suggestions … this is your deal,” said Urdahl, who is the Republican lead on the House Capital Investment Committee. “If you’re going to do it, I’m telling you how I think it can be done, at least procedurally, in the Legislature.”

Urdahl said the city has “a unique window of opportunity” with its requests for state participation in the wellness/recreation center, because of his position in the House and Sen. Scott Newman’s seat as vice chairman of the Capital Investment Committee in the Senate.

He said the city might consider asking for $6 million — up from $5 million — in state bonding funds, and also increase its own contributions to the center by $1 million.

“Time is an important factor” in the city’s proposal, Urdahl said. “The window of opportunity won’t be open long.”

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