City leaders in Hibbing pushing for new public safety building

Nickila says some walls have so much water damage paint won’t stay on
City leaders in Hibbing pushing for new public safety building
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:34 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:25 PM CST
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HIBBING, MN. (Northern News Now) - City leaders in Hibbing are working to find a new home for their fire department, police, and ambulance services.

Local lawmakers are advocating to use bond money, but it may be up to the people who live in Hibbing to determine if this long-term project becomes a reality.

Now almost six decades old, the Hibbing Fire Department has just barely stood the test of time.

“Our block is literally deteriorating here, you can notice it on the inside and the outside of the same wall,” said Shawn Nickila, Battalion Chief for the Hibbing Fire Department

Nickila said some walls have so much water damage, the paint won’t even stay on.

They’ve also outgrown the place.

It’s not just the fire department that needs more space, at the police department their evidence locker is packed to the ceiling.

“A lot of cases nowadays, the retention on them is a lifetime for some of them,” said Steve Estey, Chief of Police for the city of Hibbing.

Estey said their current setup also doesn’t have separate women’s and men’s locker rooms, so officers take turns changing.

“So this locker room we have right now is not a bad locker room, the, unfortunately, part is we only have one,” Estey said.

These are just a few of the reasons why Hibbing leaders want a new public safety building.

“You want to be modern so that you have your training facilities as part of your structure and design,” said Hibbing Mayor Peter Hyduke.

A larger training facility, more storage, and gender-equitable locker rooms are some of the things Hibbing’s mayor said would benefit a large area.

“Hibbing is the largest city in the state of Minnesota 186.5 square miles. And so we have a bigger service area but we also maintain and work through a 600 miles square area where we support services for our region,” Hyduke said.

But Hibbing residents may have to help foot the bill.

Senator Rob Farnsworth, a Republican who represents the area in St. Paul is introducing a bill that will ask Hibbing residents if they support a half percent sales tax to help construct the $20 million building.

And though there are other sources of funding, it may be up to the resident if the project goes through.

“We’ll keep working on bonding and look at other funding but I think at this point, this is a solution that the city is presenting,” said Senator Farnsworth.