The city of Merrill wanted to find a contractor to renovate the Lincoln House, but water damage might cause the city to tear it down.
Editor's note: Beat notes are filed weekly by Wausau Daily Herald reporters discussing events on their beats and observations they have made while reporting.
? The future of Merrill's Lincoln House, a historic building in the city's downtown, is in jeopardy after water damage sent possible contractors fleeing.
Two water pipes under a sink in a vacant third floor apartment burst overnight Jan. 23, sending water cascading over the bottom two floors in the Lincoln House. Repair workers found a window in a previously secured area was open, allowing frigid temperatures into the building and causing the water pipes to freeze and break.
City Administrator Dave Johnson said the repairs, which are covered by the city's insurance, will cost between $300,000 and $400,000, according to initial figures from the insurance company.
Johnson said the city now needs to decide whether it will paint the exterior and try once more to find a contractor for renovation or tear the building down to create an empty lot in a prime downtown space that might be more marketable to businesses and contractors. Tearing it down would cost about $150,000.
The building houses WJMT Radio, a job service agency and a couple of residential tenants. Most of it stands vacant.
? The city of Merrill on Wednesday sent out official bid specifications for its new fire station.
Bids are due back April 2 for the estimated $3.5 million station. The Merrill City Council will choose contractors at its April 9 meeting.
Once the city awards contracts, it plans to follow an aggressive timetable to finish the station by January or February and have it operational by spring 2014.
The fire station will be located at the corner of Pier and East Second streets, across from the post office, and will replace the current fire station at 701 E. First St. The current station, which was built in 1917 and added on to in the 1960s, is outdated.