MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Investigators are calling a destructive fire at the construction site for a new City Hall in Lakeland “suspicious.”
When firefighters arrived at the site on South St. Croix Trail around 11:30 Sunday night, it was fully engulfed in flames. There was controversy around the building long before construction started last month.
The building was about halfway done when it burned to the ground.
Investigators aren’t the only ones saying something’s just not right, so are people who live in Lakeland. Nancy Haberman has lived in Lakeland her whole life.
“Pretty suspicious, being there’s been so much contention going on,” she said.
Lakeland City Council Member Dick Glasgow was just elected Mayor Tuesday. He defeated incumbent Mayor Amy Williams.
One of their biggest differences during the campaign had to do with the need for a new city hall.
“People say I’m opposed to it, but no, I’m the voice of the residents. Residents came to me and said overwhelmingly put a stop to it. We don’t want to spend 600-thousand dollars. We want to keep the old historic city hall,” Glasgow said.
He acknowledges the current building is in need of repair, but vowed to stop the construction of a new city hall immediately, if he was elected.
“I’ve only found one person who wanted the new city hall and he was real estate developer,” Glasgow said.
Before the fire, Glasgow planned to convert what had already been built into a city garage, and offer residents some property tax relief with the money saved. But now?
“You know it’s too early to tell yet. You know if it could be redone… we just simply don’t know yet. It’s too early, I’m still in shock. I’ve found nobody so angry that they could do this. I don’t have any answers at this point,” said Glasgow.
City leaders say construction crews had not yet done the electrical work on the building. And the fire broke out at a time when no one was there.
The state fire marshal’s office is assisting the Washington County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.
If you have information about the fire, you are asked to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 651-430-7600.