New fire station vote was long time coming in Delavan

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
— City of Delavan fire fighters waited almost 30 years for Tuesday's "yes" vote.

The city council voted 5-0 to authorize Bray Architects to take a $2.997 million design plan to bid for a proposed new fire station.

The new station could be built along Ann Street about a block and a half east of the current station, which is located at 222 S. Seventh St.

While staying within the city's $3 million budget for the new building was a priority, it also was important to build something really great for the city, Fire Chief Neill Flood said.

"We as firemen, I think, are going to take a tremendous amount of ownership in this building," Flood said.

The city has been talking about building a new fire station since at least 1983, when the fire department moved into its current location for what was supposed to be a temporary period. The station was built in 1948 to be an auto agency and its ventilation, office space and technology infrastructure are inadequate, Flood has said.

A special committee has been studying the move to Ann Street for two and a half years, and on Jan. 4 recommended the council approve Bray's proposal to go to bid.

The design proposed by Bray Architects is one-story with a small mezzanine. The building is intended for 50 years of use, architect Matt Wolfert said.

The plan includes offices for a chief and assistant chief, a dispatcher's office, a conference room, an inspector's office and a training space.

The design includes a brick facade and glass bay doors. The building has been designed so the training room can be used for evening community activities.

Bray has included several environmentally sustainable design features.

For example, the glass bay doors and windows would make use of natural light and much of the construction waste would be recycled. Lighting and plumbing facilities also would be energy efficient as would the heating and cooling systems.

Grant money could be available for some of the green features, Wolfert said.

The council approved requesting several alternate bids, including the construction of a bunk room, a larger parking lot, the glass overhead doors and in-floor heating.

After some debate, the council did not request an alternative bid to install geothermal heating. However, the construction of radiant-heat flooring would make geothermal an option in the future.

Councilman Ron Siedelmann was absent from the meeting because he is ill.

Lake Lawn check delayed

The city of Delavan will wait for the water to clear before cutting a $32,507 check to the former owners of Lake Lawn Resort.

The item directing staff to cut such a check was on Tuesday's agenda as a hold-over from last month. However, while the city owes the money to the former owners, it is not clear at this time who would get the money.

Lake Lawn Resort closed in December after Anchor Bank of Madison in October bought the resort for $19.97 million in a foreclosure auction.

The city and the resort long disagreed on thousands of cost-recovery charges.

Per the city's developers agreement with the resort, Lake Lawn was to reimburse the city for some costs, such as engineering or legal fees related to Lake Lawn.

In 2009 and 2010, the city forced Lake Lawn to pay tens of thousands of dollars in overdue cost-recovery bills in order to keep its liquor license.

On the flip side, in June, the city agreed to reimburse the resort $13,000 in cost-recovery overbilling if the resort agreed not to argue other payments. Former Lake Lawn General Manager Pete Zellmer in August told the Gazette he had not seen such an agreement and had not seen the $13,000.

The pending $32,507 payment is the result of an audit that was prompted in August when city staff discovered $97,000 in invoices that had never been billed to Lake Lawn.

The council did not put the payment on its next agenda but could do so if more information becomes available about the relationship between Anchor Bank and the former resort owners.

Part of the concern about the money owed Lake Lawn is the fact that the council in September approved a $1.2 million assessment to Lake Lawn to pay for a water main that stretches along Highway 50 and through the resort property.

On a related topic, the council did not take action requiring Baker Tilly to regularly provide a spreadsheet showing the financial activities of TIF District No. 4.

Councilman Dave Kilkenny argued that the spreadsheet should be made available regularly to the council and staff. The spreadsheet was the tool that helped the city in August identify the unpaid invoices and prompted the audit.

Other council members said that without Lake Lawn—the TIF's biggest tenant—a regular report would be an unnecessary cost.

Last updated: 4:06 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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