The vacant Affinia Brake Parks building is being considered as a site for a Waupaca Public Works facility.
“We are looking at this vacant building at this time because of its availability,” John Edlebeck, the city’s director of public works, said during the July 16 meeting of the Common Council.
For the past several months, the council has met in closed session, negotiating the purchase of the building. It did so again last week.
However, before the council went into its most recent closed session, Edlebeck presented the proposed project in open session.
The approximately 41,000-square-foot building is located in the city’s Business and Technology Park.
The cost to remodel the building is estimated at $5 million.
Edlebeck said that is a rough estimate and compares to the approximately $6 million it would cost to construct a new building.
Veleker told the County Post on Tuesday, July 23, that the Common Council has asked city staff to evaluate a second vacant building, also located in the city.
That proposal is expected to be presented by the end of August.
The city’s Public Works Department, along with the Parks Maintenance Department, currently operates out of five buildings.
The buildings are located throughout the central and east side of the city, with the average age of the buildings being 63 years old.
One of the buildings – the city’s Water Street Garage – is about 95 years old, Edlebeck told the council.
He noted there are various problems in those buildings, including structural failures, roof leaks, garage door widths, building height limitations and wiring, plumbing, drainage and heating issues.
The need to address the Public Works/Parks facilities was raised as part of the 1999 City Facilities Study by McMahon Associates, Edlebeck said.
It was then confirmed in 2000 by the City of Waupaca Facilities Ad Hoc Study Group Committee and the Common Council, he said.
The priorities outlined more than a decade ago were to renovate the police department by demolishing the Old Armory gym and expanding the department into the historic facade area, acquire the Hendrickson Center and remodel it for youth and community recreation and consolidate Public Works into one building.
Since then, the police department and recreation center projects were both completed.
At one time, the city and Waupaca County considered building a joint facility.
However, last fall, the county decided to discontinue that discussion, citing budget issues.
As a result, the city is now investigating two vacant buildings in the city as possible sites for Public Works.
Constructed in 2000, the Affinia facility is located on Royalton Street on the city’s east side industrial park.
Edlebeck said the city worked with Keller Builders to evaluate the building and develop a preliminary remodeling plan and cost estimate.
If the city bought the building, property taxes would no longer be collected on the property.
The Affinia property paid $39,878 in 2012 in property taxes, deposited into the Tax Incremental Financing District No. 3 account.
He told the council the city’s tax rate would not have to be raised to fund the proposed facility.
Veleker said the proposed facility is part of the city’s five-year capital plan.
The plan also includes funds to reconstruct the downtown portion of Main Street, remodel City Hall and the Waupaca Area Public Library, to do road work and also funds for police and parks and recreation capital projects.
The debt would be structured to allow the principal payments to be delayed for a couple years until the city’s existing debt drops, he said.
“With a modest tax base and conservative estimates on expenditure growth, we believe we can keep the mill rate level,” Veleker said.