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W’bago building deemed a hazard

By Staff | Sep 14, 2014

A building in Winnebago is a potential danger to the public.

The Winnebago City Council had that confirmed at their meeting last Tuesday night when city engineer Travis Winter presented the results of a building inspection conducted at the old Outlet Store building on Main Street.

“The results probably are of no surprise to anyone here,” Winter said. “After years of little to no maintenance it has become a potential danger to the public.”

Some of the damage to the old building includes a noticeable crack along the east side, falling bricks, water damage in trusses, bowing walls and much more.

At their previous meeting the council wondered if it was possible to remove the top level of the building but leave the main floor.

“Doing that would not be cost efficient,”?Winter explained. “The floor of the second level floor would need to be turned into a roof and the front two-thirds of the building would need reinforcing.”

In concluding the report he added that taking the building down would be costly and probably cause issue with adjacent buildings. However, it would probably cause just as many problems if the issue wasn’t addressed.

“To me, it’s not just about looking into tearing that building down it’s about getting something else put back in there,”?council member Scott Robertson said.

He asked about local economic development authority (EDA) funds and if there would be anything there which could be utilized for rebuilding on that block.

“Highway 169 is going to continue to be the main thoroughfare so we need to keep our Main Street looking lively,”?Robertson added.

Council member Jean Anderson agreed with Robertson adding that the Main Street buildings need to be in a condition which make people want to stop and stay in town awhile.

“Something does have to be done about this,” she said.

Councilman Rick Johnson was concerned about the cost of this project and about incurring even more costs by trying to replace the old building later. “I’m concerned about whose money we’re spending,” he said. “How much debt are we putting on the people?”

Winter ended by proposing two options to the council; demolish the building or look into some type of redevelopment plan.

“Maybe you will need to broaden the scope of things and look at a rehab of the whole block,” Winter said. “Then once that is decided you can look into funding which might fit your type of project.”

The city of Winnebago is on the agenda for the next county commissioner meeting to discuss the demolition of the building which is currently under the county’s jurisdiction due to the fact that it is a tax forfeited property.

Robertson agreed to represent the council at that meeting.

However, the council agreed that with the knowledge of the actual condition of the building, some type of precaution should be taken immediately.

“Do we want to make the decision now to close off the alley near the building?”?Johnson asked.

They voted unanimously to put up a fence or blockade of some type to prevent anyone from walking too near the building in case any bricks or portion of the building should become loose and fall.

In other business, the council:?

briefly discussed the preliminary levy which needs to be set by Sept. 30. However, city administrator Chris Ziegler asked to set a special meeting to allow him more time to work with the budget.

The council voted to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., to go over the budget and set a preliminary levy before the deadline.

received an update on the police hiring process. They have currently reviewed and scored 50 applications and narrowed it down to 15 individuals to be interviewed later this month.