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July 15, 2014 | 12:06 PMGENOA CITY — It looks like a new village hall/police department headquarters will go up near Veterans Park, just north of downtown.
On Monday, the village bought 2.99 acres on Fellows Road for $130,000 from the Workmen’s Benefit Retirement Home.
“We thought that was an attractive price,” said Village President Bill Antti on the phone Friday. “It’s in a good location. I thought being across from the park would be nice.”
Since 2013, village officials have discussed ways to address concerns about structural problems and spatial needs with the current village hall/police building, 715 Walworth St. Now, the village has to hire an architect to finalize building designs. A preliminary floor plan calls for a structure that’s about 12,000 square feet. That may change during the planning process, depending on what the architect and others come up with.
“We have a village hall committee, and they’re going to have their input, too,” said Antti.
At a July 10 meeting, the village board voted 5-0 to authorize Antti to sign a contract from Kueny Architects, of Pleasant Prairie. Trustees Ken Parker and Phil Traskaski were absent July 10.
Antti said Kueny submitted a draft contract about a week prior to the meeting. “We had some questions with the contract itself. Some of it was the cost, and what things are covered.”
He would not say how much Kueny wants for the job, because the contract is still being negotiated. The board’s July 10 action authorizes Antti to sign once he and the village attorney feel comfortable with the price. Antti said there’s no time line on finishing contract negotiations, but it would be nice to have a tentative building plan to show people during this year’s Genoa City Days, Aug. 1 to 3.
“I don’t know if we could get it done by then, but that would be nice.”
He’s also still hoping construction begins by the end of the year.
Why Fellows Road?
Antti said the Fellows Road property allows room for growth, as well as plenty of parking space for whatever officials decide to build there.
“The building is supposed to last 50 to 75 years, and it’s hard to predict what you’re going to need in 50 to 75 years,” he said.
Previously, Antti brought four land options to the village board, which also raised the possibility of tearing down the existing municipal building. On July 11, he discussed why these options didn’t pan out.
On Feb. 13, the board voted 4-3 to build on the former Robinson Oil Co. site, on Walworth Street. To build on it, the board would have had to purchase five adjacent lots. The land was commonly referred to as the “Quonset Hut” property.
“The problem with that was (the owner) didn’t particularly want to sell,” said Antti.
There also was land north of the Quonset Hut property, but a house and garage on the land would have needed to be torn down.
Antti said village trustees weren’t in favor of that. “First of all, you’re paying for the residence. Then, you’re paying to tear it down.”
There also was land behind the BP Gas Station, on Fenmore Court and Elizabeth Lane, said Antti. “We looked at that particular property, but that cost more and it kind of landlocks us, if we want to do any kind of expansion in the future.”
Two farmland lots behind Antti’s Walworth Street home were also considered, but not as seriously as the others.
“Some of the feeling is you don’t want to necessarily go more toward Highway 12, because it kind of seems like that’s our business district,” said Antti.
So why not tear down the 715 Walworth St. building and reconstruct it?
“We’d have to purchase at least one house there, and we’d still have the same tear-down issue. And, we’d have to relocate the fire department,” Antti said.
In addition, the village would need to expand parking at that location. Antti said to do that, the village likely would need to enter into a lease agreement with Genoa City Foods, which owns the parking lot at the corner of Walworth and Freeman streets.
He said by purchasing another property, they might be able to sell the current village hall building.
But how does Antti feel about building a village hall/police department outside of downtown?
“The upshot of it is our village isn’t so big. Taking it out of downtown (means) moving it out a couple of blocks.”