Waunakee village officials have directed staff to help determine the costs of moving the Village Hall to the former South Street library location and a process for selling the existing Village Hall.

At their meeting Monday, the board agreed to spend up to $10,000 to engage an architect in an effort to determine the remodeling costs for the building to meet the municipal needs.

Village Administrator Todd Schmidt offered some reasons for the move.

Several options have been considered for the site, Schmidt told the board, and village officials wanted to give the school district time to consider possibility of purchasing the building.

In his discussions with Randy Guttenberg, Waunakee school district administrator, Schmidt said he learned that “timing-wise, they cannot tell us now minus a referendum process that they’re ready to move on the library.”

The South Street building offers some advantages. Schmidt noted that the existing village hall is 8,000 square feet as compared to the former library’s 12,000 square feet.

“It’s very practical to think that remodeling would accommodate our needs in that space,” Schmidt said.

From a financial perspective, the new library’s proforma has an $850,000 placeholder – revenue anticipated from the former library’s sale.

“It’s tough to tell you whether that remains a mark for us because we’re still in the process of finalizing expenses and finalizing revenues for the new library project,” Schmidt said.

Currently, earth is being moved at the new library site to make way for the new playground.

In 2016, an appraisal was done on the Village Hall at 500 W. Main St., indicating that $950,000 would be the price point.

Schmidt added that he walked through the former library with Geoff Vine, a Waunakee resident with a professional building background, who estimated upwards of $375,000 to remodel the old library for a new village hall.

“Those are the numbers that are kind of floating out there,” Schmidt said.

He suggested the board take action to help village staff “hone in on those figures.”

Another motivation stems from a deed restriction that would allow the district to take ownership of the upper level parking lot should the building be used for non-municipal purposes.

“I have been told by Randy Guttenberg that the district would intend to exercise that option to retake the upper parking if it goes to non-municipal use,” Schmidt said.

The former library site is also a central location, he said, adding that he liked the proximity to the school. The village and district have worked together on projects, he said, noting that the plaques on the Mutts on Main public art works were engraved at the Innovation Center.

The former library would offer additional space that could potentially be used to store artifacts or for a historical society, Schmidt added. The village could also work with the district to use some parts of the building if needed.

In the future, at the new library site, space is available to build a village hall should the district find the need for the South Street location.

Schmidt asked for two things: for the board to direct village staff to engage an architect to determine a price tag for the remodeling costs; and to research a third party to assist with a request for proposal process for selling the Village Hall.

“Some might say, couldn’t we just put a for-sale sign on the front yard and see what happens? Or some might say can’t the village coordinate an RFP process itself? The reason I’m suggesting a third party is that we own this asset. I think it might make sense to have a little bit of a buffer between us as the owners and the market place for this process,” Schmidt said. “It certainly takes away any notion of favoritism toward a party.”

Schmidt said unexpected funds in reserve are available to fund his requests, including a $14,000 credit card rebate and a $30,000 insurance dividend, along with unassigned general balance.

Village President Chris Zellner asked what would happen to the Rotary Park adjacent to the Village Hall if the building were sold.

Trustee Phil Willems, a Rotarian, noted that the site lies in a vision triangle and is unbuildable. Village Engineer Kevin Even agreed that the site lines would need to be maintained.

Zellner also asked about the former library roof which was recently replaced. Schmidt said the project would entail only the interior of the building; exterior work would be limited to the signage and security.

Zellner also wondered about the deed restriction on parking should a private party utilize a portion of the building.

Attorney Brian Kleinmaier said at that point, village officials could talk with the school district about the need to exercise their right.

Trustee Bill Ranum asked about the cost of leaving the building vacant, noting that if the village were to eventually move to the North Madison Street location, why move twice?

Schmidt noted that a binding referendum process would be required for the village to build a new municipal building, if borrowing were required to complete it.

Trustee Gary Herzberg noted that a larger space would allow them to accommodate more people at meetings.

“We’ve held meetings when this room is not large enough,” Herzberg said.

Asked about parking, Schmidt noted that the South Street location has 40 parking stalls.

Herzberg said he liked the idea of investigating the costs further, adding that in the future, if the school district had a need for the South Street site, the village could then move.

Willems agreed, adding that a historical-society area might be an attraction.

The board directed village staff to spend up to $10,000 for architectural services to determine the remodeling needs and costs, and research third-party services to facilitate a request for proposal process for the sale of the existing village hall site. The analyses would also determine the expense of holding the South Street building.

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