Lonsdale puts combined City Hall/police department on hold

Andrea Nelson, Contributing writer

After public comments and an about-face by a council member, the Lonsdale City Council is reweighing how and when to proceed with a new police department and City Hall project.

"There's really no point at having further discussions tonight. We discussed and that's where it's at," said Mayor Tim Rud to close out the city council special meeting that included public comments by community members on May 1.

The discussion began as an idea after city officials determined the cost to do a modest City Hall remodel in 2018 would far exceed the amount the city council approved in the budget. At the time, bids for the remodel came in as high as $1 million.

Given the age and condition of the current police department, Rud and the council decided to start looking at what it would cost and if it would be feasible to create a joint facility.

While in the earliest of phases of the discussion process, city staff and the council looked at site locations for the combined government building, as well as met with a developer interested in a partnership of sorts for a building location. The council also held a special meeting to interview building firms to discuss how each would handle construction of the project.

Despite the continued talks and forward momentum of the project, at the regular council meeting prior to this meeting, Rud and public works director Russ Vlasak brought up road condition failures occurring on the older city streets.

"They're busting up," Rud said of portions of the city streets.

Rud posed to the council whether it is in the best interest of the city to continue with the discussion of a joint government building or to focus on road repairs.

"There is no intent of raising taxes," Rud said. "Streets and public safety should both be number one (priorities)."

At the beginning of the special meeting, public comment was made by three citizens. Each spoke of their concern for the location being considered by the council.

Residents Gary Skluzacek, John Duban, and Mike Anderson all asked the council why they wanted to purchase land when the city already owns barren land suitable for this project.

Skluzacek went further to suggest the city not rush into a decision to build without first weighing all the options and costs associated with it.

"Step back and realize what you're doing," Skluzacek said.

Mayor Rud thanked the citizens for voicing their concerns and said that they each raised good points for the council to discuss, adding that the project is still in the "very preliminary" phase.

When Rud opened the discussion to the council members, Steve Cherney asked to make his comments on the topic first.

"I do want to keep the momentum for the police department," Cherney said, adding that he is no longer in favor of a joint project.

Cherney said he spent the week leading up to the special meeting relooking at the project and doing personal visits, phone calls and further research to determine the necessity of the project.

He said he believes the heart of the campus is where the current City Hall sits, and it wouldn't be right in the location being proposed next to the Villages of Lonsdale

"I propose no City Hall," Cherney said. With no City Hall, Cherney suggests looking again more.....

To see more on this story pick up the May 9, 2019 print editions of The New Prague Times or the Montgomery  Messenger.


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