GENOA CITY — The phrase “not enough information” has been used often in connection with the issue of how to address structural and space concerns at the village hall.
But on Sept. 24, it appears there might be enough data for village officials to start serious deliberation.
Specifically, financial data, said Village President Bill Antti Saturday during a phone interview.
That’s when there will be a special joint meeting of the village board and the Village Hall Committee. “I think we need all the pieces in place for anybody to make an intelligent decision as to which way to go,” Antti said.
Aside from doing nothing, Antti said there were three main options:
- Fix the current building at 715 Walworth St.
- Relocate to a different building in the village.
- Build a new one.
In a phone interview Friday, Trustee Karen Bullock — who chairs the Village Hall Committee — said her committee took relocation off the table earlier this summer.
“I think we’ve taken off the option to relocate because there really isn’t a location that’s suitable,” she said.
Antti said according to Kueny Architects’ recent village hall assessment study, there are three different ways the board can fix the existing facility:
n Fix only the environmental issues and transition into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
n Upgrade without expanding the footprint of the current building.
n Upgrade with a 4,000-square-foot expansion to the west.
He said there are two options should the board decide to build.
n A new facility on the current site.
n Build on property the village owns on Walworth Street, at the former Robinson Oil Co. site in the 300 block.
What solution does Antti prefer? He brought it up when answering questions about May 4 emails between him and Bullock.
Specifically, when he suggested Bullock poll board members about how they feel. “I’ve never asked (Bullock) what her thought is,” he said. “In fact, I’m not even sure what my decision is yet, because I don’t have all the information.”
More than 600 pages of emails and documents were recently provided by Antti, Bullock, Trustee Eric Boxer and Village Clerk-Treasurer Claudia Jurewicz in response to an open records request by the Regional News for documents pertaining to the village hall.
The documents include a building inspector’s report, discussions about problems with the village hall and what board members did to research relocation.
“I don’t think there could be a better account of the effort and discussion (about the village hall) to date,” Bullock said.
In April, Barney Brugger listed 13 items in his report, including an “urgent” gas leak in the boiler room and a need for two accessible entrance/exits on the Walworth Street side.
He also stated ventilation does not meet current codes, a need for structural analysis of the alley side foundation wall and “minor” electric code violations in the basement. “Holes and other penetrations in floor ceiling assemblies need to be filled with noncombustible material,” Brugger stated.
There also is a state report which shows that the Genoa City Village Hall, as a polling site, does not meet current voting regulations.
On May 31, Jurewicz emailed Bullock in reference to “a lovely pungent odor when you walk in the front door.”
In a June interview, Bullock said there were rodents believed to be in a wall at the village hall.
“At least they are dying, not running around eating documents,” Jurewicz stated.
In emails provided by Bullock are details concerning three properties, two on Elizabeth Lane, another at 342 Walworth St., near village-owned property, referred to as the “Quonset hut” property.
In an April 9 email to Bullock, Jurewicz stated the property is assessed at $105,500.
Bullock asked Jurewicz who would have authority to make an offer on the land.
Jurewicz advised it would have to be discussed in a closed session meeting.
However, on April 24 at 4:44 p.m., Bullock emailed Antti and stated that her committee discussed the property.
“My concern is that there has not yet been a formal plan submitted, so maybe approaching the owner of that property to purchase it may be somewhat premature,” she stated.
“But it was my impression that we were going to approach the owner to find out how much he wanted for that property.”
On Friday, Bullock said the property owner “hadn’t been approached at all.” She said there was never a closed session meeting about it, and her emails asking about the property and the process of purchasing property “was pretty much as far as it went.”
What about Elizabeth Lane properties?
There was one being considered behind the BP gas station.
“I think it’s fair to say it was put on the table and then taken back off for a variety of reasons,” Bullock said.
She said that building was deemed to be “inadequate” as a village hall.
In a July 11 committee meeting recap that Bullock sent out to village officials via email, she stated that the Elizabeth Lane property “was determined to be inadequate because of the building and lot configuration, needs for remodeling” and a “poor roof.”
Bullock also stated that Jon Wallenkamp, the architect who conducted the village hall assessment study, believes it would be cheaper to tear down the existing building.
But there is another issue, which affected the committee‘s decision on both Elizabeth Lane properties..
“The committee agreed that to relocate the village hall away from the historical downtown would be a detriment to the community and it was decided that we would not explore those two options further,” Bullock stated.
She also stated people criticized her committee at the July 11 meeting for having daytime meetings.
On Friday, Bullock said the Sept. 24 meeting will occur at night.
Does she have her mind made up already?
Perhaps, if only that something must be done. Bullock said WAllenkamp, on July 11, said they are one issue away from a lawsuit that could pay for a new village hall.