homepage logo

W’bago gets the numbers

By Staff | Jun 16, 2019

The Winnebago City Council is beginning to get a better picture of what it will cost to get the former Winnebago School buildings back in shape.

“Our end goal was to define the cost and give you a road-map to getting the existing buildings up and running,” Dana Hlebichuk, an architect with Widseth, Smith and Nolting, stated.

The report, distributed by Hlebichuk at the council’s June 11 meeting, carried a construction cost estimate of $1.5 million. Repairs listed in the document included many items which dealt with keeping water out of the building. Tuck-pointing, foundation repair and waterproofing, removing all existing limestone cap and replacing it with new metal cap and roof replacement at the gymnasium and locker room were among items which needed attention.

“The use of this building is at least another 50 years if it is taken care of,” Hlebichuk explained.

Council members asked Hlebichuk what it would cost to build a new structure with the same square footage.

“It would cost between $25 million to $30 million to replace the building with a new one with similar square footage,” Hlebichuk replied.

The council appreciated the report and the work which went into it.

“This is helpful so we have useful numbers to show our state representatives,” council member Rick Johnson said.

Another property issue the council addressed was the former grocery store located on Main Street.

Annie Leibel, the Winnebago EDA specialist, presented the council with a document which outlined a request for proposal and opportunity for redevelopment.”The reason for the proposal is to look for someone or some entity to build on the site once the building is demolished,” Leibel explained. “If there is a developer, the state has grant money to fund up to 50 percent of the demolition.”

The site could be used for retail space, offices, a restaurant, a pharmacy or many other possible businesses, according to Leibel. In addition the location would also be suitable for apartments above the commercial space.

“I think it gives a good snapshot of Winnebago and the site,” council member Jean Anderson said. “It presents itself as a great opportunity.”

The board approved the proposal. It now goes to the County Board for approval.

Moving on to other business, concern over the condition and safety of the playground equipment at Whiting Park, which is located near City Hall, came up for discussion. A report from the Park and Recreation Committee showed many boards and screws have been rotting. City staff has replaced many boards and screws but are concerned over the future safety hazards which could occur with the playground equipment.

“This park always seems to have people using it,” council member Paul Eisenmenger said.

The other council members agreed the location of the park makes it convenient for people to utilize it.

There is currently over $34,000 in the capital equipment budget and the city is expecting a DNR grant of $18,595 for work done on the West City Park Playground, deputy city clerk Jessi Sturtz commented.

Discussion followed and a motion was passed authorizing up to $25,000 to be spent on new playground equipment and to keep the old playground equipment repaired until it is replaced.

Finally, an update on the search for a city administrator was given. Rick Johnson informed those in attendance two candidates were interviewed on Friday, June 7, but there are no finalists at this time.

In other business:

A motion was passed appointing Thad Sturtz to the Planning Commission.

The council authorized the purchase of a used lift for the public works department for an amount not to exceed $9,000.

A request from the Winnebago Police Department , in conjunction with National Night Out, for free swimming from 7-10 p.m. at the pool on Tuesday, Aug. 6, was granted.