Edgerton will hold a special referendum in June for approval to build a new City Hall, but officials disagree over the odds of success for the $1.2 million question.
“We’re doing a $2.5 million wastewater treatment plant this year and when I was knocking on doors for re-election a few months ago, I got the feeling that a lot of people just didn’t feel it with the new City Hall project,” said Alderman Mark McIntyre.
The 109-year-old, 3,200-square-foot building has been in disrepair for several years, and the city spent $7,000 earlier this year for temporary work to prevent further decay. In 2007, tuck-pointing work on one of the buildings walls came to a sudden stop when the wall started to crumble.
“When people come to our city and take a look around, they see a beautiful new police station, a nice fire station, and then they look at City Hall and say, ‘What in the hell is that?’” said Alderman Ken Westby. “I think the general attitude toward it is turn your back on it and don’t think about it. Frankly, I’ve seen better horse barns than that building.”
The city last year hired the Madison office of Eppstein Uhen Architects Inc. to provide alternative options for City Hall, including major repairs to the building, renting space in another building and constructing a new 5,000-square-foot City Hall.
McIntyre said the Common Council was unanimous in selecting the new building option, but he said holding a June 2 vote does not give the city much time to persuade residents to spend the money.
“So many people I’ve talked to are without jobs right now and worried about losing health insurance and unemployment,” he said. “We’ve shored up the building for the time being. I thought maybe we could wait another few months.”
Residents should visit City Hall before June 2 to understand why a new building is necessary, Westby said.
“The cost to taxpayers is not that great,” he said. “I would hope they would just get out and come down to see the building now. I don’t think the referendum is going to fail.”
If it does, McIntyre said, the city will have to figure out how to lower the cost of a new building soon because city offices cannot last in the existing building much longer.
“Even if the referendum passes, we need to design work and then draw up contracts,” he said. “We might not get the new building done until 2010 or 2011.”