RESOLVED, that the proper city officials are authorized to pay to Oneida Realty Company the amount of $32,818.33 to reimburse it for a portion of the costs of replacing roofs on the various skywalk bridges, said sum to be payable from 100-700-1420-5530, Project CM100-I508.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  The purpose of this resolution is to authorize the city to reimburse Oneida Realty Company for a portion of the costs of re-roofing the skywalk bridge structures over Michigan Street from the old Northern City Bank parking ramp to the Alworth-Lonsdale buildings and from the Medical Arts building to the Duluth Camera Exchange building.

Oneida Realty is the owner of the Medical Arts building and the Alworth-Lonsdale building and are in charge of operation and maintenance of the two bridges in question. They are also responsible for the maintenance and operation of the skywalk structure over the sidewalk which spans from the Alworth-Lonsdale bridge to the corner of the Medical Arts building. For some time, they had been aware that the roofs over those structures were deteriorating, and in 2006 they came to the conclusion that it was no longer economical or practical to continue to repair these roofs and they should be replaced.

Oneida contracted for the replacement of all three roofs at a cost of $22,000 for the Michigan Street bridge, $25,485 for the Medical Arts bridge and $15,200 for the bridge over the Michigan Street sidewalk for a total cost of $62,685. The project was competitively bid on a private basis.

Since the inception of the skywalk system, property owners connected to skywalk bridges over public streets have been required to repair and maintain those bridges but have been promised that the city would take responsibility and pay for “major structural repairs.” This was necessary not only to secure the approval of the property owners for the bridges connected to their properties but was also viewed as a fair way of allocating major costs of bridge repair to the public.

As city funds are to be used for this purpose, it is important that the city be able to determine the need for such repairs and the most appropriate way of implementing them. In this case, Oneida was unaware of the need for the city’s involvement and so they proceeded to replace the roofs in question and then looked to the city for reimbursement of their costs.

City staff was concerned with the lack of involvement of the city in the process. Also, upon reviewing the three structures that were repaired, it was determined that different “rules” were applicable in each case.

The Medical Arts bridge was a standard skywalk bridge built under agreement with the city and the above rule appeared to be applicable. However, the Michigan Street bridge was originally a private bridge built for the old Northern City National Bank to connect the bank to their customer parking and as such Oneida as the building owner was totally responsible for all repairs necessary to it. However, when the Medical Arts skywalk connection was constructed from the Alworth-Lonsdale building to the Medical Arts building, a public easement was granted over that bridge and it became a “Skywalk Bridge.” Finally, the structure over the Michigan Street sidewalk from Alworth-Lonsdale to the corner of the Medical Arts building was in lieu of running the skywalk through the buildings and as such, its maintenance was totally the responsibility of the property owner.

Therefore, after much discussion and consideration of the competing issues, the staff is recommending that the city reimburse Oneida for the cost of the replacement of the Medical Arts bridge roof at a cost of $25,485 and for 1/3 of the cost of the Michigan Street bridge or $7,333.33 for a total of $32,818.33. The cost of the roof for the structure over the Michigan Street sidewalk would be born by Oneida.

The city has also notified downtown property owners that, in the future, the city will not be participating in any costs of skywalk repair unless the city is actively and fully involved in the process of determining the need for those repairs and the methodology and process of implementing them.