Board has mixed feelings about town hall

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Ryan Silvola/Beloit Daily News Administrative staff will move out of Beloit Town Hall by the beginning of September, with officials citing various health and safety concerns. Board members are currently debating about whether or not to renovate the existing building or build a new one.

TOWN OF BELOIT - Town board members have mixed feelings about what should happen to the Beloit Town Hall now that staff members soon will be moving out of it.

In a vote of 3-2 on Monday, board members approved relocating town staff to Fire Station One by the beginning of September. Officials will hold town meetings in the station starting in July. Town chair Tammy Maegli and supervisors Dan Schreiber and Skip Rath voted in favor of the plan, while supervisors Jim Stevens and Wade Sweger voted against it.

Maegli said she voted in favor of the move because town staff need a better environment where they can work. Schreiber voted in favor of the move because of all the health and safety concerns.

Sweger said he thought the proposal was voted on too quickly. Stevens voted against the plan, because he said the town has already invested in too many projects at the moment. Sweger and Stevens declined to comment further.

Rath couldn't be reached for comment by press time.

Town administrator Gene Wright said 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.

After being presented with a three-to-five-year plan to demolish the existing town hall the and build a new facility, board members had concerns about the board and public not having enough information about what it would cost to renovate the existing town hall.

Maegli said she agrees with looking into the costs of renovating the existing town hall, though she expressed concerns that the building may be past the point of renovation.

"I think we need to talk more as a board and with Gene to figure out what's best to make sure the public understands," Maegli said. "They need to know what and why we're doing what we're doing."

Schreiber agrees with Maegli.

"I think the building is probably pretty far gone," Schreiber said. "I'm open to either plan and looking at the costs."

Maegli said the plan to either build or renovate likely will take at least five years. Though she said the moving plan might be moving fast, Maegli said staffs' safety is their top priority.

"When you see this (building) and how rough it is, it's like what were the people before us thinking?" Maegli said.

Wright previously said that historically the town hasn't taken care of its properties as well as they should.

"In the last few years, we've started to look at the state of our buildings and how well they are going to last," Wright said. "We just never addressed the problem until the last 8-10 years, and now we're playing catchup."

Wright said the town will now work to move out all staff members as soon as possible while he works with town staff to glean more information on what renovations to the town hall would cost. He expects to have more information on the estimated cost of the renovations by next month.

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