Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The informational meeting on the Community City Hall Project was held Thursday, Oct. 18, in the South Haven Fire Hall. Mayor John Lemke called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. Council members in attendance were Norman Bodeker, Russ Christinsen, Anthony Stanley, and Kandice Voigt, and City Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer Carol Banken. Also in attendance was Leo Kill of Liman Post and Beam, Inc. There were nine other individuals in attendance.
Purpose of the meeting was to present the South Haven Community City Hall building design and related information, and answer questions on this project. This was an informational meeting only as the required public hearings were previously held. Handouts were available of the design layout of the building with dimensions and room sizes on these diagrams.
Mayor Lemke asked Councilor Stanley to explain the finances of the project. Financial information and funds availability for covering the cost of the building were explained. There have been no tax funds used or tax increases planned to cover this project. Donations, received earlier in the project, have paid for much of the preliminary work throughout the project. [The donations totaling $153,653.48 were from VFW Post 7332, VFW Auxiliary, and the South Haven Fire Relief Charitable Gambling]. Also designated toward the project is a portion of the monthly rental revenue from the Post Office; the building was donated to the city from the VFW a few years ago. Currently, in addition to the designated project funds balance of $92,500; there is enough city funds available, along with the use of municipal enterprise savings funds, to cover more than two-thirds to three-fourths of the construction cost without depleting funds or using any of the necessary reserved operating funds. Some donations may be forthcoming from some of the local organizations that council representatives talked to earlier on in the project, and will be meeting with again in the weeks ahead. If necessary, steps will be taken to borrow the balance needed from the local bank, following any required legal processes. The City would not have moved forward with awarding the construction bid if they did not feel confident on the affordability.
The building design and structure was not discussed at length as very few questions were asked about the design. The construction on the new building should begin in a few weeks, upon approval of the building permit. It will have colored steel outer walls, some brick veneer on lower portion surrounding the corner where the office is located. Colors have not yet been selected. This one-level structure will be built where the old hall was previously located and onto the adjacent lot at corner of Oak Avenue and Grant Street. This building not only will have a nice office space but will fill the same community needs as the previous city hall did for meetings and rental use for things such as wedding receptions and other functions. Any new office furniture or other furnishings will have to wait and the old tables and chairs will be used. To start, the kitchen will be just a warming kitchen. This structure does not have the dividing retractable wall in the meeting room, which was in the previous proposed design, however it allows for this to be added on in the future if desired. It will have zoned heating and cooling capabilities and be energy efficient. The council overall feels this is a useful and practical building that will be an asset to the community.
Questions and comments were made and addressed. One resident, Sandy Swanson, had several questions that generated a lengthy discussion during the meeting. She expressed her concerns of use of any funds toward the construction and maintaining of any new city hall or community center building when the city has other current and future needs to consider and she had concerns of the possible future tax increase to cover those needs. Stanley did state that he had visited door-to-door with several resident citizens this year and the majorities still are in favor of a new city hall as long as it did not raise their taxes and he thinks it is time to bring closure to this project so the council can direct their time and energy on some of those other city needs. Even though Swanson did not seem to be in favor of this project, she also commended the council on all the work and research they have done. Another individual at the meeting commented that having a community hall is often the pride of many small city communities.
Meeting closed at 8:05 p.m. by Mayor Lemke.
Carol L. Banken,
City Administrator/Clerk Treas.