Waukesha seeking resident input on new city hall building

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It's now only a matter of time before Waukesha City Hall, a 51-year-old building in desperate need of repair, gets replaced.

A recently completed study, commissioned by the city earlier this year, has determined its feasible to create a new multipurpose municipal building in place of the old one, and officials will be spreading the word about the city's options for where to build it to residents at an upcoming series of public information meetings.

A new multipurpose building would combine the operations of city hall, 201 Delafield St., the department of public works annex building across the street and the 23,731-square-foot water utility department into one location.

The question facing the city now is where to construct that building. Officials are reviewing three potential building sites.

The future of the main administrative building has been discussed for several years and construction of a new facility is all but inevitable, the study suggests. The current 45,182-square-foot city hall building is the subject of a growing list of complaints from the people who use it and potential rehabilitation costs are piling up.

The city is weighing its options and wants residents to weigh in, too.

Public info meetings

Four meetings to discuss the city's options have been scheduled.

The potential sites for a new city hall include vacant land between Bank Street and East St. Paul Avenue along the downtown riverfront, on top of the city's Metro Transit Center, 212 E. St. Paul Ave., or at the current Delafield Street site, according to City Project Engineer Katie Jelacic.

A meeting targeted at downtown business owners and residents was scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Waukesha State Bank, 151 E. St. Paul Ave., one day after the common council reviews the proposals.

The next three meetings are designed specifically to address residents living within certain aldermanic districts.

For residents in districts 1, 2, 3, 8 and 11, the meeting convene from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at the city's parks, recreation and forestry building, 1900 Aviation Drive.

For residents in districts 4, 5, 13, 14 and 15, the meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Summit View Elementary School, 2100 Summit Ave.

For residents in districts 6, 7, 9, 10 and 12, the meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at Citizens Bank of Mukwonago, 2109 Corporate Drive.

A news release said all the meetings will begin with the same presentation and then allow for questions. City officials and representatives from the consultant team studying the project will be on hand, the release said.

'End of useful life'

One reason the city is carefully weighing its new-building options is that officials feel it doesn't make sense to pour money into a building that the city might not use long-term, City Administrator Kevin Lahner has said.

"The city is considering the consolidation of the buildings as the current buildings have reached the end of their useful life and continued use of the buildings will result in significant maintenance costs," Lahner said.

"The buildings are difficult to access, do not allow for effectively providing services to residents, and are not fully functional for city staff purposes," he continued. "The goal is to create one center that brings together many municipal services and creates ease of access and use for the residents."

Those concerns align with responses from city employees regarding the current facilities detailed in a 2012 survey conducted by Robert W. Baird & Co.

In the survey, many employees cited the challenges inherent in the facilities. Members of the department of public works cited customer service and interaction, with city hall as the most challenging aspect of its department space. The human resources department cited a small conference room and others cited indoor environmental quality concerns.

According to Lahner, city hall also needs a new roof and has a plumbing problem.

When addressing those concerns earlier this year, he said, "These are needs, not wants."

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