Edgerton to discuss possible sale of veterans building

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Stacy Vogel
Thursday, November 12, 2009
— History could collide with practicality in a debate over the future of the Edgerton Veterans Memorial Center.

The building has sat mostly empty since the church that was renting it moved out last year. The city has discussed selling it in the past, and a potential buyer has expressed interest, encouraging the council to again take up the issue.

But the building is full of history for the city’s veterans, and some don’t want the city to sell.

“There obviously are some, and understandably so, very strong emotions,” said Fred Falk, senior vice commander for the local VFW chapter, Edgerton City Post 2708.

The city council discussed the issue at its Nov. 2 meeting and plans to discuss it again at a future meeting.

The community started the effort to build the memorial building for the returning World War II soldiers in 1947, Falk said. It was completed in 1961. The city paid most of the costs and owns the building.

Over the years, the building has held a teen center, a preschool and other organizations. Now, it’s only used for VFW monthly meetings, said Ramona Flanigan, city administrator.

Cathy Engler would like to rent the building for her business, Edgerton Children’s Center. She told the city she might be interested in buying it if it’s for sale, she said.

Engler asked the city to name a purchase price for the building as part of the rental negotiations, Flanigan said. Engler plans to make improvements to the building and doesn’t want to have to pay for those improvements again if she later buys the building, Flanigan said.

But Engler emphasized she’s not pressuring the city to sell the building and isn’t even sure she wants to buy it.

Rather, her inquiry is a good opportunity for the council to decide if it wants to put the building up for sale, Flanigan said.

“It’s the bigger picture,” Flanigan said.

The building is expensive compared to other city buildings, Flanigan said. The city has spent $5,600 so far this year on maintenance and utilities, and that total would be more if the city kept the building comfortably heated at all times.

“It is hard for the council … to justify the expenditures every year for a building that is hardly used,” she said.

But Theodore Trulson, a World War II veteran, said it’s an expense the city needs to pay. He doesn’t mind the city leasing the building out but is adamantly opposed to a sale.

“It’s established as a veterans building, and it should remain as a veterans building,” he said. “(City officials) budget for everything else; why can’t they do something for the veterans?”

The city and the veterans have discussed several possibilities if the city were to sell, including requiring any new owner to maintain the “Veterans Memorial Center” name and creating a historical marker for the veterans.

Engler, the daughter of a veteran, said she has no interest in changing the building’s name and would allow the veterans to meet there if she buys the building.

The city council has promised the veterans could meet in the new City Hall, scheduled to begin construction in spring, and has discussed allowing the veterans to display pictures in the new building.

“The council has been very gracious,” Falk said. “They’ve included us (the veterans) in all of the conversations.”

But that’s not good enough for Trulson.

“(The suggested compromises) won’t satisfy us at all,” he said.

Last updated: 11:58 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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