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January 21, 2014 | 10:33 AMGENOA CITY — The village board has left the door open for two options —but ruled out three others — for the village hall/police department project.
The remaining options are:
During the Jan. 15 village board meeting, the trustees whittled away proposals and came closer to picking a final plan.
- Renovating and expanding the existing building, 715 Walworth St. This plan is estimated to cost between $782,400 and $864,000.
- Building a new village hall/ police department at a new site. This plan is estimated to cost between $1.2 and $1.4 million. The village owns land at the former Robinson Oil site, but to use that property it would need to purchase adjacent land, which is commonly called the Quonset hut. Both sites are located across the street from the liquor store.
Village President Bill Antti said he prefers building at a new site, in fact he voted against further exploring the option of renovating/expanding the existing village hall. He said he doesn’t want to pour money into a 75-year-old building.
Trustee Karen Bullock, who chairs the Village Hall subcommittee, voted along with Antti — in favor of a new building, but against the option to renovate/expand.
However, not all the board members oppose renovating the existing village hall. Trustee Phil Traskaski, who works for the McHenry County School District, said old school buildings are often renovated and updated. He doesn’t see why that can’t be done for the village hall.
Both Traskaski and Trustee Ken Parker voted in favor of keeping an option open that would repair the existing building. However, that option closed on a 3-2 vote, with Bullock, Antti and Roger Cagann voting against it.
Concerns with police department/village hall
In fall 2012, the village created a subcommittee to find a solution to structural and spacial problems that exist with the village hall and the police department.
The building contains hazardous materials — the tiles in the basement are made with asbestos and pipes are wrapped in it. There is peeling paint in the building, and lead paint is present.
The electric wiring in the building isn’t to code. The office staff has reported animal and insect infestations – maggots have fallen from the ceiling onto police officer’s desks, and mice and birds live in the attic.
There are also space concerns. The police department doesn’t have enough space and is seeking a better location to store evidence. Chief Joe Balog has also expressed concerns about evidence that contains blood-borne pathogens being stored in the basement.
Municipal court meets in the village hall. During juvenile proceedings, people have to wait outside as the court is in closed session. The same problem also occurs when the village board enters closed session.
Separate police building?
Traskaski asked architect Jon Wallenkamp of Kuney Architects, Pleasant Prairie, to explore the cost of building a new police department at a different location and renovating the existing village hall.
However, Antti said he believes the two offices should be at one location.
“There are safety issues, the village clerk’s office doesn’t feel secure without having a police force readily available,” Antti said.
Village Clerk/Treasurer Claudia Jurewicz said that people in the community like having both offices at one location.
There also is an economies of scale savings. In one building, the two departments would share spaces including rest rooms and break rooms.
“I would like to see what the cost is of just a new police department,” Traskaski said.
However, Traskaski won’t get to see that price, as the board voted 4-1 to continue to house both departments under one roof.
After the meeting, Traskaski and Parker both expressed concerns over the possible costs of building a new village hall/police department.
In 2013, both trustees voted against borrowing $1.5 million to fund the village hall solution.
Parker said he is concerned that the village will spend all of the borrowed money. Traskaski said that the problems with the village hall — both structural and environmental — can be addressed without building a new facility.