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posted: 8/23/2012 6:51 PM

Island Lake schedules two public meetings to discuss village hall proposal

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Plans and other information regarding a potential new municipal complex for Island Lake will be presented by village officials at two public meetings.

The first is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, and the second is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30. Both will be in the gym at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave. The presentations will cover plans for a new municipal center to include village offices and board room, police station and a community center to be built on the west side of Water Tower Park.

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Sessions also will include schematic drawings, a power point presentation and question and answer opportunities. Village officials say they will outline the background of the proposed plan including conditions at the village hall, which is a former school building.

"Where we've started, where we've been, where we are today and where we would like to go," will be explained during the meetings, according to Mayor Debbie Herrmann.

"We just want to educate the community," she added.

Herrmann said the village has been considering options for improvements to the current facility and/or constructing a new one since 2006. The current building, which also houses the police station, is inadequate and not in compliance with various regulations, she added.

Repairs and other work to correct problems could cost more than $1.2 million and that does not include costs of renting temporary facilities while the current campus is rehabbed, according to village Trustee Shannon Fox.

Herrmann said documentation outlining repair costs will be presented at the sessions.

Planning for a new facility began in earnest this past spring as the village hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study. A preliminary estimate pegs the cost of a new facility at $4.5 million, Herrmann said.

One option calls for an independent developer to build and own the facility and then lease it to the village. The village eventually could buy it.

Some residents claim village officials have not been as open as they could have been during the planning process. One resident, Mark Beeson, is attempting to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters whether the village should undertake a "multimillion dollar obligation" to build a new public safety facility. Signatures on those petitions have been questioned and are the subject of a continued village electoral board meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the village hall.

"They did not trip over themselves to let the residents know about this," Beeson said. "I'm pleased that they are now allowing the residents to be involved," he added concerning the upcoming sessions.

He also questioned why a groundbreaking in November has been mentioned by village officials.

"We don't know what we can afford. We don't know what this will cost but we're going to break ground in November?" he asked. "What's the rush?"

Herrmann said financing is at a historic low and that it is necessary to plan ahead.

"If we can't do it without raising taxes, we won't do it," she said. "We think we have a good handle of the amount of money that has to go into this building."

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