A consortium led by Draper and Kramer make another presentation to the Lakewood Village Board Tuesday night.
They were seeking approval to spend $30-50,000 to develop preliminary plans for a village hall and police station on ten acres owned by the Village on Haligus Road.
An estimated cost for the 9,000 to 10,000 square foot building was just under $3.8 million. The $30-50,000 Phase 1 expenditure would be out-of-pocket costs for preliminary plans for the Village Hall, evaluation of the site’s suitability, etc.
I have to admit I thought the Board had agreed in August to have a public meeting to explain the need for a new Village Hall, but it became obvious that my expectations for more citizen involvement didn’t materialize Tuesday night. I had hoped for an emailed notice to Village residents, but notice seems to have been limited to the agenda that I would not have looked at if I had not been given a “heads up” by a fellow resident.
The decision on approving the Phase 1 was put off pending an analysis of how the Village could pay off the approximately $200,000 per year. Village Administrator Catherine Peterson said she could not have it ready by the next Board meeting, but would sometime thereafter.
She thinks the Village will have to borrow about $3 million, counting on the Crystal Lake frontage where the current Village Hall sits to provide a million dollars.
It could either be bought by the Park District for open space, sold for residential use, even for townhouses as can be seen on North Harrison Street in Algonquin or used as a restaurant which would be the only one overlooking Crystal Lake.
Smith told the Board that there had been “preliminary inquires for a restaurant.” Such a use would providing not only real estate tax but sales tax revenue.
“We have to come up with $200,000 per year. Where are we going to get $200,000 a year?” Trustee Gene Furey wanted to know.
Gary Sexson, another Trustee, said, “I definitely understand the needs. They’re huge.
“I’m concerned that this [consortium] is the only game in town. I don’t want to approve it tonight. We need more discussion among ourselves…I need to chew on it.”
Retiring Trustee John Burton wanted to know if the Red Tail Golf Course land had been considered.
It was not, Smith told him, because she didn’t think that residential area was and an “appropriate” location for a police station. [One would not that the current police station is in a residential neighborhood.]
“We directed them to look at two sites,” Smith said. The other was at an unidentified lot on Huntley Road.
“Three million dollars is well within the Village’s [ability to pay}," Burton observed.
Perhaps complicating the analysis is the uncertainty of the cost of fire protection in the future.
Peterson said the next agreement faced "very challenging discussions" with the Woodstock Fire Protection District.
Partially because of the purchase of a farm on the west side of Route 47 and the north-south jag of Route 176, the twenty years of payments would be lower in the beginning and increase when that purchase is completed.
The financial advisor from Stern Brothers estimated the interest rate would be from 2.5 to 3%. Lakewood has a Triple A bond rating.
Village President Erin Smith framed the issue like this:
"If you believe we need a new Village Hall, [do you think it would be useful to have this background information]? If you think we don’t need one, are we a real grown up town or not?”
She pointed out that the current Village Hall does not have a place for juveniles. In one instance a family who had been victimized by teen walked right past him in the lobby of the Village Hall. A violation of state law is involved.
Separating victims of domestic violence from those accused thereof is also a problem caused by the lack of space.
Trustee Carl Davis asked where the $30-50,000 would come from.
Administrator Peterson said it could be obtained either from reserves or even from the current budget, whose current revenue is running higher than expected.
“We have to talk about how much we want to spend,” Trustee Jeff Iden said. “We haven’t been given any number of what we can afford.”
Specific questions were made of the various line items in the tentative budget.
“We have a duty to squeeze your margins,” Smith told the members of the consortium.
Haligus Road was selected as a way to start a “Town Center” of the future, as Lakewood grows to the west.
A “We are here in the Village of Lakewood and things are going on here” approach.