Town of Beloit Board hears from residents during listening session

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BDN file photo Town of Beloit officials spoke with residents about the future of the town hall facility and other issues during a listening session on Monday.

TOWN OF BELOIT - The town hall, strategic planning and the 208 sewer and water project were discussed by the Town of Beloit Board of Supervisors, staff and constituents during a listening session on Monday.

Less than 10 residents attended the meeting and shared their concerns with the Town Board. After the Town Board voted last week to move town operations out of town hall and into Fire Station One, town administrator Gene Wright said the town now will conduct a needs assessment to see if the town should either build a new facility or repair the existing structure. Wright said the town should have a better picture of its options in the next few months.

Officials say the town hall facility is facing a litany of concerns, such as dilapidated facilities (including numerous out of order restroom stalls, urinals and drinking fountains), a pervasive mold problem, water damage from a leaking roof, asbestos tiles that are breaking apart, an uneven and badly lit parking lot with health and safety concerns, broken windows and an unsecured front entrance.

Residents asked that the board seriously consider both options before moving forward.

In terms of incorporation, Wright said for the time being all plans to incorporate have been shut down. Town officials decided not to pursue incorporation after the state rejected the town's application late last year.

"We plan on utilizing the shortcomings that came out during the incorporation process to make our town better," Wright said. "The application showed us areas we need to work on...we can use this as a road map to make our community better as a whole."

He said the town's newly established Strategic Planning Committee will now focus on future development and improving the town's road system.

Resident Tom Barnes asked why the town hasn't considered consolidating with the City of Beloit to form one large municipality. Since the city is constrained by state and municipal borders, Barnes said it leaves no room for the city to grow. Plus, he said the current municipal borders between the town and city look like "a jigsaw puzzle." Barnes added that having two police and fire chiefs and other positions is a burden on taxpayers.

"The advantages are slowly eroding to where there's not a big difference between the two," Barnes said.

As the third largest municipality in Rock County, Wright said he doubts merging with the city would make residents' experiences better. Wright adds that the township still will be receiving an additional approximately $800,000 in revenue once Alliant's new West Riverside Energy Center is online.

Though residents may not support a merger now, Barnes believes looking at the data would change people's minds.

In terms of the 208 sewer and water project, Wright said the city has made a proposal to resolve the disputed agreement. He said the town will respond with an amended agreement in a week or so. Wright said the municipalities should be able to resolve the 208 project in the coming weeks.

He said the town and city have been communicating well.

Though Town Chair Tammy Maegli said she was disappointed with the session's turnout, she was pleased to hear feedback from residents who attended the meeting.

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