Island Lake public officials were in for a hot time -- and so was everyone else -- Saturday morning as more than 100 residents stuffed into the village hall gym to see plans and drawings for a proposed new municipal complex housing police headquarters, offices, a board room and community center.
The gym had neither air conditioning nor fans, and on a day anticipated to reach 93 degrees, the heat was on in more ways than one.
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Despite Mayor Debbie Herrmann's constant reassurances that village taxes would not be raised to pay for the improvements, several residents kept questioning how the village would pay for the project costs.
"This is a money pit," one person declared from the audience.
Herrmann said the village would make monthly payments out of its general fund, and that final costs would depend on the options the village board selected, such as furnishings, a basement, a firing range and garages for Island Lake police cars. She repeated the purpose of the meeting was to give residents a glimpse of a proposed municipal center and gain feedback for future deliberations.
One resident wanted to know why the board doesn't wait for a year or two before deciding on a new building.
Board member Sam Cicero said the time to act is now, when the village can get about a 1 percent interest rate on loans.
"Nobody knows what the economy a couple of years from now will be," he said. "Interest rates may go up to 4 or 5 percent."
Officials said the village faces a hard choice: to rehab the current village hall and police department at an estimated cost of $3 million, or opt for a new building at a base price around $4.9 million.
Rehabbing not only involves the cost of bringing all structures up to current codes, they said, but also the cost of renting offices and other spaces for village employees while reconstruction is under way.
"Do we have all the answers?" Herrmann said. "No. But we have enough of the answers to put together this presentation."
Village employees were issued questionnaires on July 16 to determine how much space each department needed to function effectively. Architects said they pored through documents and went through several meetings to separate the village's needs from the wants and keep costs down.
Spencer Skinner of the BKV architecture group said, "When you go from 30,000 square feet (as one department requested) down to 16,000 square feet, nobody got everything they wanted."
Officials said the proposals will be available on the village website at villageofislandlake.com, possibly by Monday.
A second public meeting to consider the proposed municipal center will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30., at the village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.