January 07, 2014 | 02:15 PMGENOA CITY — Discussions about one of the most controversial village issues in recent memory could begin as early as next week.
And, in a Dec. 31 phone interview, Village President Bill Antti said he’s optimistic about it.
“I’m looking toward a positive solution to the police department/village hall,” he said. “I’m kind of excited to see what it will be.”
In a Jan. 3 email, Karen Bullock — village trustee and chairwoman of the Village Hall Committee — said a special board meeting is planned for Wednesday, Jan. 15. However, there was no meeting scheduled on the village’s website for that date as of Monday morning.
Although the board has not decided what to do about the repair and space concerns with the building, the issue ignited passions in 2013.
Some also said that the board should have done more to plead its case about the village hall and police department issues.
Antti was asked if he would have gone about the issue differently if he had the chance to do it over.
“Not necessarily,” he said.
Some people “went off the deep end,” said Antti, and “made a judgment based on speculation” as to what the board was doing.
“It would have been nice if that hadn’t happened, but I don’t know how we could have stopped it.”
Bullock was asked the same question. She was also asked if she felt the board did its best to explain the issue to residents, and if she’s looking forward to the discussions about a solution.
“I am looking to the future regarding the questions you have asked (and) looking forward to discussions regarding the village hall/police department situation,” she said. “I think that a well-thought-out plan would be a real asset for the community.”
What type of plans?
It seems the board needs to decide whether they will do nothing, repair the building, add onto it, or have a new one constructed.
Antti said he wants the board to discuss what it feels is the best solution to the problem.
He said he’s not sure if just repairing the building is the right solution “because that’s like trying to put a six-person family into a two-seat car,” but that’s one of several ideas the board will discuss.
“I don’t want to rush through it because I think this is an important decision,” Antti said.
He said he believes that no major structural work has been done to the current village hall structure since it was built next to the fire station in 1939. The board room was, at one time, the village public library, he said.
But Antti said his main concern is for the police department.
“Our police need a new facility to do their job effectively,” he said.
In a Jan. 5 email, Village Police Chief Joe Balog said his department — with six full-time employees and six part-timers — has outgrown the space.
He said he has three concerns about the lack of space.
There are no appropriate interview rooms, nor are there locker rooms and showers, said Balog.
“If you have ever needed to restrain someone who has urinated themselves or are bleeding and may have hepatitis, would you want to bring that home to your family or children?” he asked.
He said where police store evidence — the basement — is “unacceptable” because of mold and asbestos problems, but “this can be abated.”
Balog also discussed other areas of the building he’d like to see improved.
“I would like to see Genoa City Police Department sponsor or host (training programs),” he said. “This is a great way for our agency to network with other professionals, get training for our officers, at no or low cost.”
Balog said there also is a lack of handicapped-accessible entrances for the entire building.
“Any citizen should be able to easily enter and exit the village hall and police department,” he said.