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Old community building's future under discussion
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Discussion at a meeting Monday night over the future of the old Gays Mills Community Building, located on Main Street, led the village board’s public property committee to schedule a special meeting for this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the new Gays Mills Community Commerce Center.

Four requests were made for use of the old community building. One in August will be after the moratorium on any board action regarding the disposition of the property, which will end in May. Gays Mills Village Trustee Harry Heisz expressed concern at approving the August request with the future of the building undecided. That concern was addressed by approving the use conditional upon the building staying a village property.

“I haven’t heard anyone ask us to get rid of the building,” said fellow committee member and village trustee Albert Zegiel. “I have heard people ask us to keep it.”

“I would remind you that your committee would be responsible for making a recommendation for the disposition of the property when the moratorium ends,” said Gays Mills Village President Craig Anderson.

Heisz suggested the meeting. He also asked members of the public present for the committee meetings Monday night for suggestions of a time that would suit their schedules. The special meeting will be held in the boardroom of the Community Commerce Center.

All four requests for use of the old community building will be recommended for village board approval, the committee decided.

Wording on the bids for residential removal will be simplified.

Couleecap’s Kahya Fox discussed the bid process, which is seeking to improve the process by which bids are chosen.

Fox will rewrite the proposal documents to include only options of “removal and relocation” and “salvage and removal” and will include language to specify that all demo materials must be disposed of in a landfill. The amended documents will be presented to the board next Monday for approval.

Action on a variance request for 218 Park Street was tabled pending additional information being sought by Couleecap. The variance requested permission to infill during elevation of the property between it and the neighboring property at 212 Park Street. The neighbor expressed concerns over the effect on water flow during flooding and possible damage to drainage tile.

The Gays Mills Zoning Board of Appeals recommended against the variance, recommending a retaining wall instead of infill.

Because the retaining wall adds significantly to the cost of the project, Fox said there are additional concerns with the funding agency for the project, which is a Community Development Block Grant. CDBG has a rule limiting investment in a project whose work would exceed 50-percent of the property’s fair market value. A retaining wall would increase the cost of the entire project beyond that threshold. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources does not have that rule on their funding of such projects. The question determining if the retaining wall option is possible is determining which agency rule supersedes the other. Clarification is being sought from the state.

The Gays Mills Village Board Finance Committee recommended approval on moving forward on the Royal Bank Loan to cover JEM Grant expenses, using either a short-term loan or line of credit, whichever proved least expensive.

At last month’s meeting, the village board had requested Gays Mills Central Business District Manager Julia Henley seek a comparison between rates on a revolving line of credit and a short-term loan, as well as a written statement from the Department of Tourism guaranteeing the timeline for reimbursement. Neither was received.

Anderson did speak to Abbie Hill, the JEM Grant Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Hill assured Anderson that turnaround on reimbursement would not take more than 60 days.

Anderson informed the board that the lawyer for Maxine Brooks had informed him by phone that Brooks would no longer pursue the Bistro project in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center. Anderson has asked that the withdrawal from pursuit of the project be made in writing.

The public works committee will recommend allowing Joe Klekamp to claim possession of the garage located on the alley to be closed adjacent to his property. The village would potentially need to quit claim a portion of the land on which it is located to Klekamp, as the rule of law in such a closure divides the alley closure land equally to the adjacent property holders, in this case Klekamp and the village.

In other business, the committees:

• tabled action on the only mowing bid with intent to meet with the bidder and make a recommendation at the board meeting;

• heard that Lana’s Family Hair Care would be breaking their lease, making the equipment purchased for the salon village property;

• heard an update on the urban forestry project;

• heard an update on pool application and commitment by Jen Klekamp to serve as manager this summer;

• heard a Fair Market Value Assessment of Mercantile Center rents has been completed and submitted to the U.S. Department  of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration;

• heard the new directional signage should be available for preview by April 13;

• recommended approval to write-off interest on an old rental rehab loan made to village resident John Gibbs, recommended by Community Development Alternative’s Lori Bekkum;

• received an update on rental elevation requests from Kayha Fox;

• heard cross connection inspections were done, with two needing more work and reinspection;

• asked Anderson to invite the Department of Transportation to send a representative to speak to the board about the De La Mater creek project and to seek input on engineers from the Village of Soldiers Grove;

• recommended approval of the proposed sand mine ordinance;

• recommended approval of the Shared Resource and Information Agreement with Crawford County;

• heard an update on the new police officer, Casey Cox; and

• tabled discussion on reviewing and amending Title 7, Chapter 1 ordinance on animal ownership.

The committees will meet next on April 29 at 7 p.m.