GENOA CITY — On a 4-3 vote, the village board approved building a new village hall/police department at the old Robinson Oil site, which is on Walworth Avenue, for an estimated cost of between $1.3 and $1.4 million.
During the Feb. 13 meeting, Village President Bill Antti and trustees Karen Bullock, Roger Cagann and Alan Cornue voted in favor of building the new village hall.
Trustees Ken Parker, Eric Boxer and Phil Traskaski voted against it.
During a special village board meeting on Jan. 15, the board listened to five options that were presented by architect Jon Wallenkamp. During that meeting, the board whittled down the options and took three plans off the table.
At that meeting, the board left the door open for two options, building a new village hall at the old Robinson Oil site, and upgrading and expanding the existing facility. The estimated cost of upgrading the existing facility was also between $1.3 and $1.4 million.
To build at the Robinson Oil site, the village board will have to purchase an adjacent property, which is commonly called the Quonset hut.
During the meeting, Cagann said that if the board is unable to purchase the adjacent property it could use the plan Wallenkamp designed for another location in the village.
Prior to the meeting, a man who owns a home near the Robinson Oil site expressed concerns that the property has stormwater issues and building at the new site will create more issues for neighbors.
“We would improve the stormwater situation on that site,” Wallenkamp said. “It is an engineering concern that either way should be looked at.”
During the meeting Cornue said he would have preferred a different option that the village board ruled out during the Jan. 15 meeting. Cornue wasn’t at the Jan. 15 meeting.
Cornue preferred the most expensive option, which was to build a new facility at the current location. Cornue said he believed the cost of that option could have been reduced if the board made some adjustments to the plan.
Cornue said the village’s comprehensive plan says that the village hall should be located in the downtown. He considers the area the village hall is currently located the village’s downtown.
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 storing evidence that contains blood-borne pathogens in the basement.
Municipal court meets in the village hall. During juvenile proceedings, people have to wait outside when the court is in closed session. The same problem also occurs when the village board meets in closed session.