The city of Isanti is continuing to move forward with plans to construct a new municipal liquor store.

During a special meeting of the Isanti City Council on April 13, the council awarded the construction bid for the new municipal liquor store to Alliance Building Corporation for a cost of $1,918,900. The bid includes the cost of putting in a metal roof for $100,300, and a snow melt system for $60,000. Council Member Jimmy Gordon voted against the motion, indicating he wasn’t in favor of spending $60,000 on a snow melt system he felt wasn’t needed.

City Administrator Josi Wood explained the city received a total of eight bids for the project, ranging from the low bid of $1.9 million to a high bid of $2.3 million. The architect’s estimate was $2.3 million.

“These bids are much lower than we were anticipating,” Finance Director Mike Betker said.

The new liquor store will be constructed on land east of O’Reilly Auto Parts, at 10 Sixth Ave. SE, Isanti.

Alliance Building Corporation is owned by Corey Gerads and Mark Braun. Gerads joined the council meeting via Zoom, along with Bob Landsberger, who will serve as the project manager and estimator for the liquor store construction project. According to the Alliance Building Corporation website, the company is based out of Sauk Rapids, with both Gerads and Landsberger having over 15 years of experience working in the construction industry.

Council Member Dan Collison asked if just the tubing could be put into the sidewalks and prepped, for future installation of the entire snow melt system.

“Originally, when we discussed this snow melt, the budgeted amount that was estimated was $250,000 for it all,” Council Member Steve Lundeen said. “That $60,000, I’m going to tell you right now, jump on it.”

Mayor Jeff Johnson said implementing the snow melt system will make the store safer for both employees and customers.

“For us not to do that would be probably a headache because the semis are all going to slide around in that loading deck and it’s going to benefit us more,” Johnson said. “As much as I don’t want to spend that money, it’s going to benefit our product coming in and out of that liquor store and the safety of our employees.

“That’s my only fear, is the safety of not only the employees but the residents. Somebody falls and ends up suing the city, it’s going to cost us a lot more than $60,000. That’s a liability and I dislike the liability word,” Johnson added.

Gordon questioned the need for a snow melt system.

“Almost every other business in the country probably functions just fine without a snow melt system; for $60,000, I just don’t see enough value to justify this,” Gordon said. “I would like to see it done without that, and that’s just my two cents. I think it’s overkill. I don’t think it’s totally necessary.”

Lundeen also mentioned having a snow melt system will save on staff time going out and salting, shoveling and sanding, and cleaning up all the salt and sand that gets tracked into the store.

“If you’re going to take away staff time to go out and shovel and salt and when you put salt on concrete, salt eats concrete, terribly. And so then four years down the road all of a sudden we’re busting up sidewalks,” Lundeen said. “I mean, we did this out here in front of City Hall. A few years ago we had to do that and take out all the sidewalks and we had somebody come in and tear it all out, reform it, re-pour. It’s going to save us money in the long run all the way down the road.”

Gordon said he didn’t support spending the $60,000 on the snow melt system.

“Almost every other business doesn’t have it and we’ve been getting by just fine in our current liquor store without it,” Gordon said.

Lundeen urged Alliance Building Corporation to order materials as soon as possible.

“If we award you the contract, my biggest thing is, and you know this as well as I do, is material is hard to come by right now. And this is one of the reasons I asked Ms. (Josi) Wood to have you present was to reiterate to you that we need to order materials today,” Lundeen said. “As soon as you sign this contract, I think we need to get on it. And that’s one of the reasons I stressed to have this meeting a week earlier for that simple fact this week could be six weeks on the end of this project and that’s why I can’t stress enough,” Lundeen said. “Product is getting worse and worse and worse. ... We can’t see all of a sudden come and say, materials went up another 25% and we got to add another 25%. That’s why I stressed the fact that you guys could be here and we could get on top of this ordering everything as much as we can today.”

Gerads said if Alliance is awarded the contract, they will make ordering materials a priority.

“We will jump on contracts right away and that will be our first thing because we do have to get our contracts out to our subcontractors,” Gerads said. “We do not want to see price increases and we’re well aware of it, we deal with it every day, that is something we just have to work through. But as soon as you can get us the contract, the sooner we can get our subcontracts out, the sooner we can lock the numbers and get shop running and materials ordered and delivered.”

The council also approved a resolution accepting a quotation for the liquor store’s refrigeration system from SCR based out of St. Cloud in the amount of $143,871.

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