Monday meeting to pick a contractor is cancelled; more discussion next week.

    Crookston City Council At-Large Council Member Wayne Melbye, one of the leading proponents for the Downtown Square pavilion structure in line to be constructed this summer, recently said that if the cost estimates to build the structure came in way over the approved $100,000 budget ceiling, "we'll go back to the drawing board."

    Well, welcome to the drawing board.

    A special council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at city hall with the intention of approving a quote from a contractor to build the pavilion and, hopefully, have it finished in time for Ox Cart Days in August, was cancelled Monday afternoon when two contractors turned in quotes by the Monday noon deadline, and both were around $50,000 more than the $100,000 maximum previously approved by the council.

    Engineer/architect Robert Gustafson, the lead Downtown Square designer who's worked as a volunteer for months on the project, figured the plans and specifications he'd put together would put the cost to build the rustic, rural-looking structure in the $100,000 range. The feeling shared by Gustafson and council members was that if the quotes came in at more than $100,000, some costs could fairly easily be trimmed from the design. But no one figured the quotes would come in as high as they did.

    Melbye and Gustafson could not be reached for comment at press time Tuesday.

    Crookston Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Shannon Stassen, asked by the Times for his reaction to the apparent setback, is taking a diplomatic approach.

    "We'll be flexible on our end. We have our big tent. We have alternative plans," he said. "We want a square that will eventually serve our entire community, with a special focus on downtown. What it's going to cost, that's completely out of our hands."

    Stassen noted how much work Gustafson has done, free of charge. "I would hate to see it get all thrown away, but it's not our money," Stassen said.

    No matter what's built or not built on the Downtown Square, Stassen said the space will be an attractive amenity. "If something's put up eventually, we'll be really happy with it," he said.

    The council's Ways & Means Committee is next scheduled to meet on Monday, June 24. Presumably, a discussion of what steps to take next at the Downtown Square will be on the agenda.