In recent months, the Park Falls Committee on the Whole and Common Council have been looking at options for the home of City Hall going forward. According to City Administrator Brent Michalek, the current building is in need of major renovations and, going into winter, the city is looking at the expense of restarting an aging boiler that may or may not serve their needs for the upcoming season.
At this week's Committee on the Whole regular meeting, the committee gave consideration to a proposal from MSA for a Space Needs Study for city hall and the police department. Once that study was completed, a decision would be made on the future of the City Hall.
The fire department and library will not be included in the study.
Mayor Michael Bablick said the reason for not including the fire department was that if the police department was to have its own space, rather than using some of the fire department's space, the general feeling was the fire department space would be sufficient for them to perform their work.
One of the options, Bablick said, would be to renovate the current building. Another would be to look at razing the building and rebuilding in the same location. Other options may include one of two sites in a different location, but neither of those sites was divulged in the meeting.
"I think our main emphasis should be on renovating this building," said Alderman Dennis Wartgow. "My preferred option would be to build a new city hall, but I don't think you'll ever get that passed."
There was discussion about what may or may not pass in a referendum. Bablick said if the difference was $500,000, it may pass, but if it were $2 million, for example, he also felt a referendum for a new building would not pass.
Alderman Mike Mader mentioned the city's library as a location that may accommodate city hall. However, Bablick said, in talking with MSA previously, the feeling was, without taking over part of the library itself, the space there simply would not accommodate those needs. Mader did make a motion to look at the library as a potential site.
"People might ask that question," Alderman Jim Corbett said. "'Why didn't you look at that location?' We have to be transparent, right?"
Bablick said the committee would need to solicit a new quote that would likely be drastically different.
In the end, the committee felt the current MSA contract for the Space Needs Study, as well as preliminary design work, which came in at $20,500, was the right decision. This would include renovating the current building, building new at the current site or looking at two different sites for the future home of city hall.