MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors this week approved directing the Bergland & Cram architecture firm in Mason City to prepare final plans and specifications as well as bid letting materials for a new facility for the County Engineer Department.

Supervisors chairman Chris Watts says they are looking at consolidating three outdated facilities into one located near the county’s law enforcement center on the west side of Mason City.  “The county engineer facilities in the county are like World War II era facilities that need a lot of maintenance. They’ve outlived their life so to say, so we’ve been looking the last couple years at merging some of the facilities. Right now we’re looking at merging three county engineering operations into one on the west side of Mason City on already owned county property, and updating the services naturally, merging the services, and at the same time putting the other property back on the tax rolls, which was not making the taxpayers any money.”

Watts says he believes the county is pointed in the right direction in addressing facility needs while at the same time saving the taxpayers money.  “I just want to make sure the taxpayers understand that what we’re doing here is merging services, combining services, and putting the other soon-to-be vacant properties back on the tax rolls and generating taxes.”

Watts says those engineering facilities need to be upgraded or replaced.  “The condition of those buildings, I’ve been in them several times, I’ve toured every county facility, and they are antiquated.  You’ve got to live up to the OSHA requirements and naturally you’ve got to have a safe working environment for the employees in the county. Some of these buildings should have been shuttered a long time ago I believe.”

Watts says they would hope to break ground on a new facility this spring and be done before the end of 2020. The approximate cost of the facility would be $3.5 million, with it being funded partially with the sale of the three properties being vacated for the new facility.