WINONA, Minn. – Consultants favor the site of the East Recreation Center for a giant new multi-function city building. The structure could go beyond merely a public safety building and be perhaps as large as 70,000 square feet. The report said the structure might house:

> Police headquarters. Now downtown in space leased from the county and shared with the sheriff’s office and county jail. To include garaging.

> Fire headquarters. Now five blocks away at the East Third fire station. To include garaging now at the Third Street station house.

> Community events center. Also being termed a “friendship center.”

> Expanded rec center. Including a second gym and and an outdoor track.

The siting recommendation, from Minneapolis architectural consultants BKV, was less than firm. BKV said the East Rec site might be too small for all the multi-purpose functions. The consultants noted that the nearby St. Stanislaus elementary school, which is closing, might be razed to give the project breathing space. Unstated was that the neighborhood is gentrifying with surrounding residences a possibility for expansion. The project is pegged at $23 million to $26 million.

Earlier: Briefing set on relocating police, fire units

Also considered

The BKV report dangled other site possibilities for City Council consideration but noted that each had more cons than pros than the East Rec site:

> Central Fire Station. At 451 East Third.

> Sinclair Park. On Broadway between Kansas and Liberty streets on the East Side.

The consultants also considered these sites but ruled them out for, among other things, long emergency runs to parts of the city:

> Gabrych Park. Between Steuben and Buchanan streets on the Far East End.

> Central grade school. The vacant schoolyard at the former school. On Market Street on the Near East Side.

> Former YMCA. At the foot of the interstate bridge.

> Ambulance station. Off Riverview Drive on the former Chicago & Northwestern rail yard.