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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely VA Clinic could soon expand in size, services

Keith Vandervort
Posted 12/4/19

ELY –Improvements at the city-owned building that houses the Veterans Administration health clinic are moving forward, according to Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski. Yet planned work may be …

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Ely VA Clinic could soon expand in size, services

Posted

ELY –Improvements at the city-owned building that houses the Veterans Administration health clinic are moving forward, according to Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski. Yet planned work may be altered if the city’s Economic Development Authority is successful in obtaining a contract to expand the health service facility.
“The VA is looking for a clinic of approximately 5,836 square feet,” said Langowski, “and the space they currently lease from us is somewhat smaller than that, so an expansion would be necessary if we get the contract.”
A site visit by VA officials to the Miner’s Drive facility was planned for this week, according to Langowski. “We may need to obtain a loan to complete any building expansion project,” he said. “This could be a sizable project for Ely.”
He indicated that additional services in Ely could be offered at a larger VA clinic. “I’m hoping we can make this all work.”
Langowski speculated that a longer-term lease, of maybe 10 or 20 years, could be sought by the VA. The EEDA is currently in a three-year lease for the clinic space. “Little did we know that after the first year of the lease contract renewal that they would be looking for proposals for a larger space,” he said. “If we can get a 10- or 20-year lease, that would be great.”
He noted that the Minnesota Department of Revenue leases space in Ely on a year-to-year basis.
Mayor Chuck Novak touted the possible lease renewal at the Ely Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board legislative meeting here this week.
“If all goes well after this week’s site visit, we will be expanding the facility down there,” he said. “We had no clue this was coming.”
Ely’s economic development advisor, John Fedo ,said the EEDA and the VA have a good relationship. “We made our submission, on behalf of the city, directly to the VA at their request. We have every indication they would like to continue their presence here with an expansion.”
Novak asked the representatives of Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and 8th District Rep. Pete Stauber to “stick their nose into the project” on behalf of the city of Ely.

Other business
In other EEDA business last week, Langowski reported that the new website is up and running and continues to get heavy user traffic.
Fedo noted that a possible occupant of the former Shopko building is developing a business plan. “The individual existing local business that is interested in that building is also exploring other options to expand their operation here,” he said. Fedo did not identify the business.
Langowski reported that work on the trailhead project at the western entrance to town will continue as long as possible. “The recycling center is still closed up there off and on as storm sewer work progresses,” he said. “He could not say if the recycling bins will be moved to the softball field area or stay in the original location over the winter. Check the city of Ely website or Facebook page for more information on the recycle center location and hours of operation.
Mountain bike trail funding will be addressed later this month by the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, according to Langowski. “We hope to get the nine miles of trails at Hidden Valley started next spring,” he said. “With the size of the project, it may take more than one season to complete.”
He noted that an archeological study of the area is required for the anticipated federal funding of about $340,000. “We are working with the U.S. Forest Service on that,” Langowski said.
The December EEDA meeting, scheduled for New Year’s Eve, was cancelled.

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