Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Proposed building may put strain on emergency services

by Chris Schultz

December 15, 2011

GENEVA — The Walworth County Alliance for Children (WCAC) has a location and plan for a new building to house its services.

But the town Plan Commission isn't sure it wants the building on its side of the street. The WCAC is asking the town for a conditional use permit to build a 4,300 square foot building just west of the Health and Human Services Building in the W4000 block of Highway NN, to be called the Child Advocacy Center for Walworth County.

At the Nov. 28 Town of Geneva Planning Commission meeting, Bill Henry of Kehoe-Henry & Associates, an architectural and engineering firm from Elkhorn, sought to address the concerns of the plan commission. "We have an issue with the setting of the building," said Joe Kopecky, commission president and Town Board chairman. "Why don't they put it on the other side of the road so it will be in the city of Elkhorn rather than in the town of Geneva?"

At the current proposed location, fire and police protection for the new building will have to come from the town. If it's moved across the street, the facility would be in the city of Elkhorn.

Henry said there were several reasons why the site was chosen. Most importantly, the site is wooded and has a protected, residential look to it. Henry said the WCAC wants the building to be set in a homelike atmosphere, rather than a stark, institutional-like setting.

"They want it to be as residential appearing as possible," he said.

The proposed wood frame building with garage will also look more residential than institutional, he said. Henry said it might be possible to arrange for the Sheriff's Department to take over security at the facility. He said he would also talk with the chief of the Town of Geneva Police to get his views on the proposed building and its possible drain on town resources.

Henry said that under current plans, the county will retain ownership of the property, and the WCAC would be a tenant.

The WCAC proposal goes back before the town Plan Commission on Dec. 19.

WCAC must get county as well as town approval of its conditional use. A hearing before the county Zoning Agency is scheduled for Jan. 19. The Child Advocacy Center is currently located at the county Health and Human Services building, W4051 Highway NN.

The county's nonprofit children's advocacy program started in 1989 as the Children's Court Advisory Board established by Walworth County Circuit Judge Robert Kennedy. In the fall of 2007, the WCAC was established as a separate entity from the Children's Court Advisory Board to obtain a nonprofit tax exemption, as a privately funded organization. The group brings together professionals and citizens to make the public aware of child maltreatment, child sexual assault and abuse and to address concerns about children's roles in the criminal process. WCAC presents multiple educational seminars on a variety of topics, including presentations and training for law enforcement, parents and school staff, medical professionals and the state Legislature. One of WCAC's goals is to establish a Child and Family Center, where it can locate all of its services in one place. County District Attorney Phillip A. Koss is president of the WCAC board of directors.