Future of City Hall and Sunset Pool also discussed


By Bob Peryea


The Elkhorn Common Council will conduct interviews for a new alderman on May 13. The deadline for submitting applications was May 1.

On May 13, the council will conduct interviews of all applicants to fill the Ward 5 seat vacated by Kim DeHaan.

The interviews will begin at 5 p.m. and are open to the public.

After the interviews, the Committee will vote on and announce the replacement.

Following the announcement of the new alderman, the council will take up fiscal issues.

At the Special Common Council Meeting on April 29, Alderman Jim D’Alessandro pointed out several times that moving forward with the council’s agenda required that they address the capital expenditures and priorities before the city.

“We need to figure what we want to do with all of this,” D’Alessandro said, holding up a worksheet of all the potential capital expenditures that the City may need in the next three to five years.

Some of the expenditures listed include an aquatic facility, extension of East Market Street, northeast water treatment facility and several road repair projects.

In other council news, El Pueblito, 56 N. Market Street, was granted a beer and wine license after several false starts with its application. Earlier in the year, El Pueblito missed receiving a full liquor license due to residency questions and an incomplete application.

The Council took up the question of the City Hall and the future home of the city’s offices.

“We owe it to the citizens to study (all of our options),” Mayor Howie Reynolds said.

In 2007, a study of City Hall was conducted by the Strang Corporation of the cost of modifications. The total cost was expected to be $1.6 million to renovate City Hall.

That did not include addressing some major functional issues, such as an inadequate HVAC system, the report states. The study also predates the City Hall’s designation as State Historic Building, a designation which affords the building certain protections that may complicate renovations.

“If we don’t have the right technologies (for city staff), we are not going to be as efficient,” Alderman Brian Olson said. He was expressing his concern that City Hall will likely have several obstacles to additional technologic improvements, such as Wi-Fi internet access.

City Manager Sam Tapson had brought up the issue of having another, more thorough study done of City Hall to update the 2007 report. The cost of the report would be $15,000.

The Council voted not to have the study done until after the May 13 meeting.

The Council also decided to hold an advisory referendum in the fall to get citizen input regarding the future of Sunset Pool.

“If the public tells us they want the pool, we need to pursue the study (of how to replace it),” Alderman Hoss Rehberg said.

The decision was made to make the referendum non-binding so that the council would still be able to decide if the City would actually be able to afford an aquatic facility, even after the referendum.

The Council debated whether to hold the referendum in the fall or the spring. There are no other items scheduled for the fall elections, so the special vote will cost the City approximately $7,000 to conduct.

In the end, the Council decided to hold the referendum in the fall to follow through with its initial commitment made several months ago when they originally voted to have a referendum.

The Council also decided to have City Attorney Ward Phillips draft a new ordinance that would cap the amount of money the council could spend without a referendum. This is being done to address an issue that came from a State Supreme Court decision that was recently handed down.





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