MARINETTE — The removal of steel from the second floor of the former Marinette County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on Ella Court Street moved within one step of beginning due to action Wednesday by the county board’s Infrastructure Committee.

The committee voted to recommend to the county board that the county enter into an agreement with Henry Malke and Son of Peshtigo and A&P of Sobieski, Wis., to remove steel detention equipment at a cost of $24,675 from the former jail portion of the LEC that has been mostly empty since a new facility was opened about 16 years ago on University Drive.

Facilities Director Marty Keyport said there was a lot of interest in the project with six bids submitted ranging from the low bid of $24,675 to $99,600.

“There was an interesting range of ideas on how to get the material out of there,” he said. “Everything that is going to be carried out is heavy, so it’s going to be an interesting project.”

Keyport said once an agreement is signed with the low bidder following approval by the county board on Jan. 29 and Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison, the contractor will have 30 days to start the project and 60 days to complete it. 

“I will be very involved in the project to make sure that we’re moving along with the timelines,” he said. “This vendor has assured me they’ll be able to meet the timelines and probably be able to start in early February.”

He said the low bidder did a demolition of boilers, water heaters, process pipeline and boiler piping in Winnebago County that involved dragging pipes out of tunnel, and the work was completed on time and within budget with the building left in good condition.

“They’re going to be pulling the large front window out of there to remove the (steel) equipment (from the former LEC),” Keyport explained. “That window was put in there in 1982 so coming and pulling that thing out and it being in perfect shape going back into that opening is probably a little bit of a wildcard.”

He said if the window can’t be put back in place, the contractor will leave the window opening sealed weather tight and $1,100 will be deducted from the price of the project.

Keyport emphasized that phase one of the LEC project only includes the removal of the steel detention equipment, none of which he said has a bearing on the structure. He said use of a torch, saw and grinder are likely going to be the three preferred methods to remove the steel.

Supervisor Al Sauld asked where funds for the project are coming from. 

“We allocated money in the 2019 budget based on savings from other projects,” Keyport explained. 

County Administrator John Lefebve said a cost estimate to remove the steel was solicited from a friend of Keyport and that the low bid isn’t far off that price.

A total of about $360,000 is included in the 2019 county budget for removing the steel and other things, such as replacing the roof and HVAC systems. Future uses for the building haven’t been determined. Possible uses that have been discussed include the City of Marinette relocating its offices and police department to it and it being used to solve some of the county’s problems such as more space for the Child Support Department and to relocate the courts and their offices to beef up security.

Keyport emphasized to the committee that the steel detention demolition is just the beginning of work on the building that will take place this year.

“You will see things regularly on the agenda as John and I push forward to get that ball rolling,” he said. “Once that ball gets rolling, it’s going to move pretty aggressively, we’ve got a lot of things we can do over there. I’m really excited.

“My staff has been doing some selective demolition, just little things we can do to kind of move things along so that when we get to those other phases we can get a real good picture of what we can do. We’ll have a clearer picture of what that building can be.”

Keyport said “a lot of folks can’t quite see the potential with that building and it will be really neat to see the work moving along.”