Walworth residents give OK to town hall
WALWORTH Walworth Township residents likely will be attending the next annual town meeting in the comfort of a new town hall rather than in the auditorium of the local elementary school.
More than 85 residents on Tuesday night voted to give the town the authority to spend up to $700,000 on construction of a new town hall. Less than five people voted against it.
“You hate to see anything go up, especially taxes, but if there’s a necessary expense, then I think this would be one,” said George Kirkpatrick of W6669 S. Shore Drive.
Town officials have been talking about the need for a new town hall for years, and the current town board—the first taking steps to make it happen—has been doing legwork on the project for about a year.
“We’re not looking to build an extravagant town hall. We’re looking to build something that will meet our needs now and in the future,” said town supervisor Bill Pearce.
The 3,360-square-foot town hall at 1301 Town Hall Road was built in 1979. The hall, garage and parking lot sit on about two-thirds of an acre.
The clerk and chairman share the only office in the building. The only workspace for the two town supervisors is a large table in the middle of the main room.
The meeting space has room for a couple dozen chairs.
Road maintenance vehicles are parked side-by-side in the town garage, and lawnmowers and other seasonal equipment are stored at nearby farms.
“Our community has grown, and so have our needs,” Pearce said. “Now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity. … It’s more economical and feasible to do it at this time.”
The site plan for the new town hall, which would be built on 7 acres of land on Brick Church Road, features:
A main building that would house offices for the clerk, treasurer, chairman and building inspector as well as a multipurpose office for town supervisors and others and a meeting space with room for about 85 people.
A five-bay garage that includes an office and shop for the road supervisor.
A parking lot with room for more than 30 vehicles and additional space in the back of the building not only for parking but also for a large salt shed and a compost site.
Room for expansion, including the addition of a second entrance and larger parking lot as well as two more garage bays.
“We wanted to plan for today and tomorrow as far as what the site could be used for,” said Elkhorn architect Warren Hansen.
The cost of the project is estimated at $740,000, but town officials have said they expect the net cost to the town would be about $540,000 because they plan to sell the existing building, which is valued at about $200,000.
The town plans to take out a long-term, fixed-rate loan through the United States Department of Agriculture to cover the cost. The project would cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 an extra $51.27 on their tax bill, according to town projections.
“We’ve always been anticipating that we would get a real aggressive quote this year because we all know the economy isn’t doing real well,” said town supervisor Larry Austin. “It’s about a dollar a week that we’re looking at for this.”
Residents questioned several things, mostly building, maintenance and utility costs. A few residents called it “foolish” and “silly” not to get going on the project soon given the economy.
“I think this is the time to build. There’s no question we’re going to save money,” said Ron Ellis of N351 Prairie View Road.
Officials said it is feasible to complete the project this year.