An advisory committee on relocating the Deerfield Village Hall, that was paused nearly a year ago, is back at work.
The Village of Deerfield’s Municipal Needs Committee met on Jan. 11, for the first time since February 2020.
The Jan. 11 meeting was largely procedural, bringing new members up to speed on what had been previously accomplished, and beginning to look ahead to new action.
The committee is working on a mission statement, list of decision-making criteria for village hall locations and laying the groundwork for future actions, committee members said.
In an interview last week, Village Board member and committee member Scott Tebon, who also chairs Deerfield’s Plan Commission, said resuming the committee’s work early in 2021 had always been the intent.
The conversation halted last March when the Village Board deadlocked over paying an architectural study of four sites. The committee itself had last met in early February.
Tebon said the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning then, and there were enough uncertainties about how that could affect the 2020 budget that there was consensus to wait until 2021. The budget picture now doesn’t look at dire as anticipated, and so this feels like a good time to go ahead, he said.
Some Village Board seats have also turned over in the past year, and there may be new perspectives on how to proceed, he said.
The Village Board voted on Dec. 22 to reignite the committee. On it will be Tebon, Village Board member Gary Wieczorek, Village President Greg Frutiger and two citizens. One citizen seat has been filled and the second remains open; interested parties should contact the village office for more information on serving.
At the time it put the discussion on hold last March, the Village Board was considering having Barrientos Design & Consulting of Milwaukee do an architectural study of three sites not currently owned by the village. It was considering buying and building on a new site, or retrofitting an existing building, for a Village Hall.
The study, costing up to $24,500, would have compared four sites for a new Village Hall to a previously completed facility needs assessment, showing which might be the best fit for village needs. It would have included site visits, drawing up each property and computer-modeling what designs might look like.
The sites were a 1916-era former law office at 51 N. Main Street; a former Gullickson Trucking building site on Lake Street behind Mobil on Main; and the north end of Liberty Commons, 10 Liberty Street. The board was also considering a village-owned property adjacent to an existing village parking lot on West Nelson Street.
Tebon said he expects one of the resurgent committee’s first tasks is to assess whether those sites are still viable, and to explore whether there are any other new possibilities.
He said he expects the committee to put out a call for updated information on the previously considered and new sites, likely seeking details such as energy efficiency, accessibility and overall cost.
The committee is advisory, with the Village Board having the final say on any recommendations.
Tebon said the committee previously discussed moving or upgrading other village buildings including the police station and public works building. But he said he expects the Village Hall to be the sole focus for now.
“Our immediate need is the Village Hall,” Tebon said.
Barrientos recommended in September 2019 that the village dismiss the idea of trying to remodel the current Village Hall at 4 N. Main St., that was built in the 1880s. Instead, the consulting firm recommended building new or retrofitting an existing structure that would offer about 5,800 square feet of space for the village offices, large and small meeting rooms and a public lobby with modern security features.
Cramped office and meeting spaces and security issues are just some of the concerns about the current site.
Barrientos has estimated that constructing a brand-new Village Hall could cost $1.4 million to $1.75 million, not including extras like furniture, architect fees and buying a site.
The committee set its monthly meetings for the third Monday of each month. Tebon said the committee will be acting in an advisory capacity to the village board.