The City of Grand Forks held a special council meeting on Monday at the senior centre in City Park to discuss how they would conduct business after the fire at city hall. Mayor Brian Taylor and all of council were in attendance, as well as several city staff members and about 20 residents.
The mayor called the meeting to order at just after 7 p.m. and immediately proceeded to thank the fire department for their great efforts in putting the fire out in a timely manner and not causing excessive water damage.
Next up, Doug Allin, City Administrative Officer, gave a synopsis on the timeline of the fire. Allin said removal of debris will take place soon. Allin also said expects the whole process of rebuilding the building will take from three to six months, although it is hard to guage.
Allin also stressed that the city’s insurance coverage would cover all the relocation costs as well as public relations/advertising to let residents know any pertinent information.
There will also be an opportunity on Friday (Sept. 27) for members of the public to view the inside of city hall and see the damage from the fire themselves.
Council and staff then took questions from audience members. The first question dealt with whether the fire could’ve been prevented. Grand Forks Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison told the audience that if someone wants to break in bad enough, they will find a way.
Other questions included: I put my electric bill payment in the box the day before the fire – is it okay? Answer (from CAO Allin): Call city hall and we’ll check on it for you. Is the old clock okay? Answer: We have found no damage to the clock.
After the meeting, Taylor told the Gazette that he and Allin came up with the idea for a “town hall” type meeting on the flight back to Grand Forks from Vancouver.
“We wanted to make we gave the public proper opportunities to take part in the crisis,” said Taylor. “I think we had a reasonable turnout given the limited notice. I’m glad their were some people that were here and were able to ask questions. It didn’t really go on too long in terms of the discussion of the damage. I think more people wanted to know about the guy who did it. But I think Staff Sgt. Harrison’s comments about the ongoing investigation was respected and people didn’t get into it too much.”