Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Town Board gives Country Estates go-ahead to apply for grant

February 17, 2011

Lyons — The Country Estates Community Association will apply for a $184,000 grant through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, after receiving authorization from the Lyons Town Board on Monday night.

The grant, and a matching grant of $553,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will go toward building a tornado and disaster shelter for the mobile home community. Total cost of the facility will be $737,000.

The shelter plans call for it to be 2,455 square feet. Under FEMA regulations that would be big enough to shelter all 491 people living at Country Estates, said Cynthia Ganka, representative of the Country Estates Community Association.

The structure will also be handicapped accessible.

Ganka said the doors of the shelter will be keyed to unlock when the disaster alert siren sounds.

Plans call for the above-ground structure to contain survival supplies as well as provide a secure location to wait out a tornado or other natural disaster. It will be handicapped accessible.

The shelter's 12-inch concrete walls are to be designed to withstand 250 mph winds. It would also be able to withstand blows from projectiles or wind-propelled objects, Ganka said.

The shelter would be built on the site of a baseball diamond, located near the middle of the mobile home park. Its location should give residents between 10 to 20 minutes to get to the shelter be secure, Ganka said.

The shelter will have its own power generator. There might even be room to kennel pets while the owners are in the shelter.

Current estimates are that it would cost about $5,000 a year to properly maintain the shelter, although actual costs may vary from year to year.

According to research by the community association, a tornado did touch down near Country Estates in the 1970s which demolished a trailer on Creek Road, on the outskirts of the park.

Plans call for the ball diamond to be relocated.

The storm shelter cannot be used as a multipurpose building.

If the association can't get the 25 percent CDBG grant, it would have to raise its association dues to pay off a loan.

Ganka estimated that a 20-year loan of $184,500 at 4.5 percent interest would come out to be an annual payment of $13,572

If that's divided by the 206 households, it would cost $66 per household per year, which would translate to $5.49 a month.

Country Estates is just south of Hospital Road. Offices for the Country Estates Sanitary District are at 6978 Prairie Lane.

The shelter will be just east of the sanitary district office on Prairie Lane.