Ponto Lake Township Town Hall and Emergency Services Building
Address: 1201 State Hwy 84, Pine River MN 56474
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What was the concept?
In 2015 Deb and Mark Standly came to a monthly board meeting and proposed donating about 2.5 acres (just to the west of the Long Pine Store) to the township to provide access to the North Memorial Emergency Helicopter. At the time several sheriffs vehicles were required to block off the intersection of SH 87 and SH 84 to allow the helicopter to land and pick up patients. The helicopter often beat some of the sheriffs to the scene and delayed the pick up process. Deb and Mark wanted to be part of the solution to this problem.
The town board gratefully accepted the offer and the transfer of ownership took place soon thereafter. Since only a fraction of an acre was needed for the landing area, the town board began to think of other uses for the remaining land. A town hall was one idea, but our current town hall was sufficient at the time and nothing further was considered.
In 2018, several things converged that made the new building more feasible and useful. The State of Minnesota had granted townships economic development money back in the 1990's to be used for loans to startup businesses. In 2018 the State offered to give the township 80% of this money for any use within the township. This was approximately $56,000.
Then the board proposed, and the annual meeting voted, to move all of our fire and first response services to Backus Fire. In the past we had been covered for these services on the east side of Lake Ada by Pine River Fire. As this was being discussed, the town board asked Backus Fire how we could improve response times for emergency services. It was determined the best solution was to locate a fire truck and emergency response vehicle near the center of the township. The donated land was located almost exactly in the middle of the township. The plans for a town hall and emergency services building were begun and approved at the 2019 annual meeting and a special meeting in June 2019.
There is no plan for a tax assessment of residents to fund the building. We plan to fund the building with the use of funding the State of Minnesota released to the township, sale of the existing town hall, donations and low interest financing available for government agencies. With the sale of the former town hall we had about 1/3 of the funds needed for the building.
This important project should improve response times for both fire and first response medical treatment in the township. This new building, with the presence of a fire truck and first response vehicle, could improve the ISO fire rating for residents’ home insurance. Every insurance company handles this differently, and it may not affect your current rates, but it is worth exploring with your insurance agent/company now that the building is completed. The ISO rating should be known soon.
The building has large heated spaces for the fire truck and first response vehicle. Heating these vehicles is important because of the medications in the first response vehicle and large volumes of water and valves in the fire truck.
The building has a town hall area for meetings and a kitchen similar to the former town hall.