By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
In 2009, Houston County contracted with HSR out of La Crosse regarding a new county highway department building.
The proposal looked at building a building that would meet the needs of the county now and into the future. The proposed site was on some acreage that the county owns out by the high school/middle school building.
County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski came before the county board to discuss the status of the highway building.
Doug Ramsey, with HSR, presented the board with a Power Point document that featured drawings of the proposed building.
Since the 2009 version of the building was conceived, the county has decided to pull some of the services they originally thought would be offered in the space out. An example is DMV services.
“We don’t need as much space,” said Pogodzinski.
However, commissioner Justin Zmyewski was concerned still with how much the building would cost at its current state.
“I want to protect the taxpayers of the county,” said Zmyewski. “I’d like to see some other plans with less cost so I can compare them side-by-side.”
Ramsey noted that, in 2009, his firm was hired to work with Houston county staff on what their proposed needs are and to come up with a suitable building.
If built, HSR proposed doing so in phases. Phase I might include office space and Phase II would include a sign shop and heated storage areas.
“Again, my only concern is I haven’t got anything to compare this building to,” said Zmyewski.
The proposed building would cost the county about $6.4 million in today’s money and would be about the same size as the current buildings.
The current space that the county has is 10,185 square feet and the shop is 13,570 square feet.
Ramsey said that HSR worked with Weiser Brothers on the proposed costs of the building.
Commissioner Steve Schuldt said he would like to see an agreement with them again so that other options could be presented for consideration.
“I just think we need to be looking towards the future,” said Commissioner Judy Storlie. “We can always add on. We don’t have to do the whole thing right now.”
“I too am looking towards the future, countered Zmyewski. “I know the sheriff just came to us and asked for $190,000 for equipment they need, I know family service has needs. I know other departments are going to have needs in the future moving forward. I don’t want to see us sink a bunch of money into another big new building when we could get by with less.”
Zmyewski referenced the new jail as a recent example where the county might have built more buiding then they needed.