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Tenants of 315 Main in Pine City Face Eviction

The Pine City Council punted on a decision regarding the fate of tenants at 315 Main Street during their second meeting of the month.

What should happen next with the building has been a source of ongoing discussion for the past year.

The condition of city hall’s boiler system was discussed with City Administrator Scott Hildebrand, who stated it was not in usable condition.

"We've got people that don't want to look at it. [They] don't want to touch it. We don't have heat, so the question is do you do an eviction or do you not," Hildebrand told the council.

Hildebrand presented the council with two options: fix the boiler for the winter or winterize the building and leave it vacant. The city moved offices in January of this year to a building on Hillside Ave following issues with mold and mechanical failings.

He said they are essentially caught between a rock and a hard place.

"Do you do the unpopular thing with the tax dollars and pay $100,000 for utilities and boiler repair for a boiler that's gonna be taken out in a year anyway," Hildebrand said. "There's no popular question here. There's no popular answer."

The revelation caught some city council members by surprise.

"What I'm trying to reconcile is that we weren't discussing that we weren't starting up the boiler all year, and now that it's time to start the boiler up, we are not starting the boiler up because of all these issues," Council Member Gina Pettie said.

Boiler problems were apparent throughout last winter.

"I do recall talking about this last spring, late winter when it was cold in here. I think at that point [Scott] made us aware that there were parts on backorder," Council member Kyle Palmer said. "I think the hope was to address it this summer, but we never came back to it. Now, we are in an emergency situation because it's getting cold."

Council Member Dave Hill said he believes they should fix the system in order to help the handful of tenants remaining in the building.

Council Member Palmer opposed the idea stating that the city should not burden the taxpayers for a few people.

On October 12th, city staff and tenants within the building to discuss a possible eviction by December 1.

The Pine City Pregnancy Resource Center is one of the tenants left in the lurch.

The non-profit has been located in the old courthouse for about 13 years. Pregnancy Resource Center Director Angela Haug spoke before the council where she outlined the frustration and surprises she experienced as a tenant.

"There has been a lack of communication to us as tenants. We have been led to believe that we were to remain in the building. I've had no indication that we should be canvassing for another location for the center," said Haug.

Angela Haug addressing the Pine City Council. Taken by Joe Keyport.

Haug asked the city to honor the lease that would give them a six-month notice to vacate the building. She told the council that this news comes during a busy time for the non-profit.

"We have been told to leave by December 1 as a formality, per Scott, during our busiest fundraising time frame. We are currently preparing to have 230 guests attend our largest fundraising banquet in which the support we receive from this helps us to keep going for the year to come," Haug said.

Haug asked the council to reconsider their decision.

The Pine City Council moved the discussion to their regular meeting on November 1.

In an email sent out by the city, Hildebrand said, "The City has been actively looking for alternative locations and discussing options to help. Additionally, we have been evaluating the boiler situation should the Council order it repaired."

He encourages residents to express their concerns during the regular council meeting in November.

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