Mayor: New Island Lake village hall still just an idea

Island Lake mayor says building new facilities isn’t a sure thing

Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann assured a group of about 40 residents who showed up to Thursday’s regular meeting that plans for a new village hall and police station were in a preliminary stage.

“As much as I would love to give you all the bells and whistles today, I don’t have them,” Herrmann said.

The current facility on Greenleaf Avenue is decades old and houses village hall and a police station, preschool, senior center and gymnasium — and it needs repair, Herrmann said. It is also not in compliance with a number of regulations, including the Americans With Disabilities Act.

She said officials began looking into the matter because they wanted to find out if moving to a new building might be equally as, if not more, cost-effective.

“We’re trying to get more for each dollar we spend,” Herrmann said. “We’re going to spend it here to redo this building when it’s going to continue to fall apart — why would we do that when we can get a better product for the same amount of money?”

Officials are considering Water Tower Park, on Route 176 at Newport Court, for the new building location. One option is that an independent developer would build and own the municipal building, and the village would then rent out the building before eventually buying it.

Architectural and engineering company BKV Group is conducting a $30,000 needs assessment, and the village engineer and other employees are simultaneously evaluating the costs of renovating the current facility. A tentative timeline by the company projects that excavation will begin at the new location in November if village officials move forward with the plan.

“Until we have the feasibility study, which is what we’re waiting for, I don’t know that we can say it makes more sense to do a lease or installment purchase,” said village attorney Julie Tappendorf.

Most residents expressed concerns about the cost of the project, but Herrmann did not speak to the subject because she said BKV Group has not yet submitted financial forecasts or conceptual drawings to the board. She said the village expects to receive that information by Sept. 15.

Herrmann said if she had to give a rough estimate, trustees are looking to spend between $120,000 to $150,000 annually.

Over the weekend, residents collected about 340 signatures on a petition to put an advisory referendum regarding the building on the ballot. Many who signed attended Thursday’s meeting and voiced their opinions about village proceedings, accusing the board of moving forward too quickly and poor communication.

“We are all getting by on less and less and less; those of us who are managing to hang on to our houses, when we hear that the village is going to spend this kind of money for a facility that may or may not be needed, where repairs could possibly do the same job, it makes me angry,” said resident Debra Thompson.

Though the question will appear on the ballot, it will not be legally binding.

Despite the expected November excavation, Herrmann said the board has agreed to hold any construction until after referendum results come out.

Herrmann said the board intends to hold at least two public hearings and presentations by the end of the month.

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