The St. Germain Town Board was presented with four site options Monday for the red brick schoolhouse and community center.
Melody Hamlin, a project manager with Funktion Design Studio, made the presentation to the town board and 20 residents.
The site options for the schoolhouse addressed square footage deficits.
The current square footage of the community center and schoolhouse totals 23,114.
Standard square footage is set at 29,850, while Funktion Design Studio is proposing the square footage be bumped to 26,125 square feet, resulting in a square footage deficit of 3,011 feet.
Option one involves the community center getting alterations and adding additional community program space. The schoolhouse will have alterations to include a history room, rentable meeting rooms, the town hall and bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The additions and utilizing the schoolhouse bring the square footage to 26,125 feet.
The cost is estimated at between just over $2.3 million to $2.6 million.
Option two completely demolishes the schoolhouse and makes up for the square footage deficit with additions to the community building.
This option also brings the square footage up to 26,125 and is expected to cost between $2 million and $2.4 million.
Option three demolishes the 1965 portion of the schoolhouse and adds additions to the community center.
The schoolhouse would be home to the town hall, a history room and will be ADA accessible.
This is the only option with a higher square footage at 27,325.
This option is expected to cost between $2.3 million and just over $2.6 million.
Option four completely demolishes both the red brick and the current community center, creating one new facility where they currently stand.
This option has 26,125 square feet but is the most costly up front at between just over $3.1 million to nearly $3.7 million.
When Hamlin was questioned about the price, she stated they were set at about 25 percent higher to start with.
"The numbers are elevated considerably because we don't know what the total design is going to be yet as far as construction, what materials are we going to use, how much site work are we going to do," Hamlin explained. "So, the numbers are elevated but they're giving us at least a range that we can work within to kind of help determine the priorities of the buildings and how we want to proceed with a potential option."
After presenting the four options, Hamlin brought out a list of 10 priorities in a criteria matrix which the board and attendees would rank, with 10 being the highest priority and one being the lowest.
She will then use what the attendees chose as their highest and lowest priorities to determine the site option which would work best for their wants and needs.
"We are going to take all of these priorities, once we determine what those are today, we're going to apply it to each one of these options to determine which one of the options works the best for the community based on these priorities listed here," Hamlin stated.
The first priority listed was overall cost.
"The overall project cost would be looking at the cost itself and all of the contingencies, so that total package number is what overall project costs are," Hamlin explained.
At the beginning of the discussion the majority of the audience was leaning towards overall cost being the highest priority, while others in the audience expressed it should be at a five.
Cost was the most common item over the hour-long priorities discussion, with the board and attendees eventually deciding to take overall cost off of the priority list entirely when they realized having cost ranked could potentially take away an option which would better suit the town.
"Are you saying that A [overall cost] could knock out one of the plans just because of the cost?" town chairman Tom Christensen asked.
"Potentially," Hamlin responded.
Christensen said what he has been hearing from the constituents is cost should not be the highest priority.
Treasurer Marion Janssen continued to hold the opinion that overall cost should be the highest priority.
"But to knock an option out this early because of dollars, I think that's just ..." Christensen said.
At the end of the discussion, the audience and board members requested overall cost be taken completely off the priority list at this point.
Operational cost was the next priority discussed.
"Operational cost, so this is going to be looking at the facilities you have right now, how much does it cost you to operate this building and then what we'll do is project what it would cost for the red brick and the 1960s," Hamlin explained. "So, this would be after the building's built and you have operational costs."
The attendees ranked this item as a high priority.
Hamlin jumped down the list to construction displacement as the attendees had already begun to discuss it after Christensen cited it as his number one priority.
Construction displacement refers to the priority of maintaining the current community center while construction is taking place. This being the highest priority would completely eliminate option four.
"As far as being able to use this facility, I don't know how you can't build at a time of year that it isn't being used," Christensen expressed. "That has to be the highest priority of the whole project. This building has to stay functional."
"See, for me, it's not," supervisor John Vojta stated.
Christensen asked if Vojta was prepared to kick bingo out.
An audience member said bingo stops on Labor Day and does not start again until Memorial Day. She also stated other groups which use the existing building could meet at local establishments while a new building was under construction.
"See, that's not important for me because for every function that's in here you can find an alternative," Vojta asserted.
"I agree with what John [Vojta] just said," an audience member said. "I think it's kind of short-sighted to make that really a high priority where we will be inconvenienced for maybe a year but look at the long term benefits."
Hamlin said after a 6- to 7-month design phase and a 2-month bidding process, construction will take up to an additional one-and-a-half years with two buildings extending the construction time.
Christensen eventually changed his mind regarding construction displacement remaining as the highest priority and before the end of the discussion it was taken off the priority list entirely.
"Originally, I said I thought that was really important and I guess, personally, I've changed my mind after listening," Christensen said near the end of the meeting.
The conversation turned towards ranking enhanced energy savings.
The current community center is below code minimum so it would need to be brought up to code regardless of the option chosen. However, the ranking decides whether they only want to bring the buildings up to code or to take it a step further.
"Right now your building is at below minimum, as far as how it's insulated, your windows and such," Hamlin explained. "We can look at this as being code minimum, which is what every building has to pass now or we can increase it by adding additional savings techniques."
Hamlin asked whether the higher priority would be in higher energy savings, which is more expensive up front but will pay itself off in the long run, or maintaining the building in a code minimum, which will cost less up front.
Christensen said the current community center is hard to heat and it causes community members to not want to use it in the winter.
"So to not have the facility brought to the point where it can be affordably heated ..." Christensen started.
Vojta jumped in and said affordably heated is the best way to put it because they have the ability to turn the thermostats up at a high cost.
In saying energy savings should be ranked high, Christensen said a new building or remodeled community center would not matter if people did not want to be there because of the cold.
"To do all of this work and have it be the same way that nobody wants to be in it in the winter time, we didn't do any good there," he stated.
Hamlin said she would rank energy savings as higher with both buildings.
Longevity of facility was the next priority item discussed.
"The number of years for the newer portions or additions," Hamlin said.
She gave longevity options of 20, 40 or over 50 years.
An audience member confidently stated the longevity should be over 50.
The cost to bring the old facilities up to an over 50 year longevity period would, most likely, be higher than creating a new building designed to last over 50 years.
Maintenance of facility priority aligns with longevity as Hamlin said she assumes the community wants the building to stay maintenance free as long as possible.
She rated maintenance higher on the priority list.
Program requirements, or square footage, received a lower priority score as audience and board members stated larger rooms could use dividers for different meetings.
Right now, the program area designates two 25-person meeting rooms, two 35-person meeting rooms and two 10- to 12-person meeting rooms.
Hamlin said after the conversation regarding program requirements, it sounded as though getting the buildings up to code and raising the energy efficiency were deemed more important.
Site limitations was the next priority item brought up.
"Is green space number one of value to you?" Hamlin asked. "Green space around your building, is that something that is a higher priority?"
There was a mumbling of "no" around the room.
As the discussion continued, it was determined additional parking is a high priority and there should be some green space.
"We're not saying level the trees but we only have so much space," Vojta stated.
Keeping the ball field was the next site limitation brought up with it being cited as important in previous meetings.
The conversation began with people saying it was important to keep as it already had light posts and electricity hooked up.
However, like the discussion regarding site displacement, it was decided if a new community center interfered with the ball field, the public could play at a different field while a new, second field was built.
"I mean we need two ball fields, there's no doubt there," Vojta said. "Could we get by and make other arrangements for a year or two? Yes."
There are two other categories within the historical significance priority item, the first restoration of the schoolhouse exterior and the second is replicating the interior.
One audience member, a previous schoolhouse student, spoke up and said saving the structure was a high priority item, specifically the 1941 portion, considered by several to be a historical landmark in St. Germain.
Supervisor Tom Martens said this conversation has been going on for 20 years and the number of people who did attend the school has dwindled quite a bit.
Vojta suggested tying historical significance into overall cost as there will be a group of people towards keeping the schoolhouse, a group of people against it and a third group which will make up their mind when they see the overall cost of keeping it.
"Let's just say 30 percent of the people are dead set it needs to go, 30 percent are dead set it needs to be saved," he said. "I think for the other portion, the other 40 percent, it's going to come down to what A (overall cost) is to make that happen," Vojta explained. "I think that's the bottom line."
How will the final site option be decided
Former town supervisor Marv Anderson, now a Vilas County supervisor, asked a question regarding a decision on a final option.
"When you get to the point of deciding which option, how is that going to be decided upon?" he asked. "Is that strictly a board thing or is that going to go to the electors? How does that work?"
Christensen said it has to go to the electors.
Hamlin said the electors will have a chance to compare the costs of options one through four.
"What you're going to see from us, as far as the optimum project is going to be one, two or three," she said. "Four will just be strictly a line item that's going to say brand new building is X amount of dollars. So, you can compare then that optimum facility to a new building."
Vojta began to end the discussion by concluding the board was "going to get yelled at regardless."
Hamlin reminded the crowd this portion of the design phase was to determine cost and square footage needs, not design.
Next meeting for site options
The next meeting will be on July 10, the topic about the conceptual building and site program.
Specifically, "developing the 'optimum' facility program based upon the town's present and future needs, preparing building programs incorporating the final space needs assessment, and presenting the facility program recommendations to the town representatives for review and comment."
The board also
Approved the appointment of Lynn Polaski as deputy animal control officer.
Passed a motion three to two on a $4,000 contract approval for MSA Professional Services to produce the town's chip seal bid specifications.
Approved a $3,500 contract for MSA to do the Department of Transportation's Wisconsin Information for Local Roads report for the town.
Approved the designation of Marion Janssen as the deputy zoning administrator.
Abbey McEnroe may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.