During the March 28 Two Harbors City Council meeting a bid for the amount of $868,600 for a new bathhouse for the Burlington Bay Campground was approved with a 5-1 vote. Councilor Robin Glaser cast the lone no-vote. The bathhouse was originally budgeted for $400,000, which was approved by the City Council when it OK’d the city’s 2016 budget in December. The project will be paid for through an internal loan from the electric fund to the general fund. The loan will be paid back by campground revenues during the next 10 years.
Over the past two weeks, the public has criticized the decision of the City Council to move forward with the project at such a high cost.
We reported that the scope of the work changed while in the public works committee, causing the price of the project to come in so much higher than originally anticipated. During the March 28 meeting both Glaser and councilor Cathy Erickson said the scope of the work changed in their statements. Erickson said during the non-televised 5 p.m. agenda meeting, "I think the surprise to me was that the bathhouse was redesigned through public works and wasn't ever really sent back to the council and that we weren't told there was a change in the scope of work," and no other councilor refuted that until the council came under public scrutiny.
Councilor Jerry Norberg and Mayor Randy Bolen responded to the public’s criticism during Monday’s 6:30 p.m televised meeting by explaining the bathhouse also included administrative offices and a family room. This is the first time that administrative offices have been mentioned at a City Council meeting since the public affairs and public works committees had a joint meeting in October 2014 to discuss the design of the structure. At that meeting, the campground manager was present and expressed concerns about moving the administrative office to the new structure, which will be located near the RJ Houle Visitor Information Center, because he didn’t feel he would be able to see both sides of the campground easily.
Bolen wrote on Facebook on April 4 that he wanted “to set the record straight because the Chronicle only posted half of what's going on.” We stand by our April 1 article. If there is more to the story as Bolen claims, we did not report it because the City Council failed to tell it.