While the future of the Armory building in Clintonville is uncertain, the Parks and Rec Committee has approved increasing the rent for the occupants of the building.
When the Parks and Rec Committee met Tuesday, Nov. 25, Justin Mc Auly, Parks and Recreation director, made the following recommendations. He recommended increasing the rent the food pantry pays per month from $30 to $35, increasing the rent the Clintonville Historical Society pays per month from $25 to $30, and increasing the per hour rate to rent the gymnasium from $18 to $20 per hour.
“I still think for the food pantry $35 is very, very cheap. You have three or four freezers, and a couple refrigerators. That is certainly something that can help us with the expenses of that facility,” Mc Auly said.
Mc Auly said he spoke with a volunteer at the food pantry and was told the pantry would have to pay at least $250-$300 per month if it had to find a different building. That figure would not include utilities.
“I would like to negotiate where we meet them halfway or get close to what it would be if they had to leave,” Mc Auly said. “For example, if it was $300, that’s $3,600 worth of revenue compared to $360. That would be huge for that building.”
Committee member Amy Steenbock said representatives from the food pantry had asked the council at a special council meeting the prior night if the city would help the food pantry find a new home.
Mc Auly said he is supportive of the food pantry but it is not the city’s responsibility to find it a new home if it has to move.
The rent went from $25 to $30 per month from last year to this year.
After some discussion, Steenbock asked Mc Auly what he thinks the city should charge the food pantry for rent.
Mc Auly said $200-$250.
“They’re not going to find a place for that,” Mc Auly said. “… Right now we’re losing money at $30.”
Committee Chairwoman Gloria Dunlavy asked what if the city increased the rent to $100 per month.
He said it would be better.
“I just want to be able to keep my building,” Mc Auly said.
Committee member Jim Krause said he thinks the food pantry is vital to the community.
“This is a depressed area of Waupaca County and I really think that raising their costs would be prohibitive,” Krause said. “If anything I think that what we could save with heating and air conditioning of that building throughout the year we would probably do just as well to rent them a building that would be useable for them.”
Mc Auly said the Armory building does not have air conditioning.
There was disagreement as to the condition of the building. Krause said the building was falling apart.
“That building is a wreck,” Krause said. “I really don’t think it’s feasible for us to continue to support a building like that without finding the food pantry a facility they can work under.”
Dunlavy said she will research how many other cities support food pantries with financial assistance.
Dunlavy made a motion to increase the rent the food pantry pays to $50. Steenbock seconded the motion. It passed 3-1 with Krause voting no.
Dunlavy then made a motion to increase the rent the Clintonville Historical Society pays for storage space. Committee member Don Jirschele seconded the motion. It passed 4-0.
Later in the meeting Mc Auly addressed the committee about the Rec Center building account. He said it is leftover money from the Community Center. He added that the funds are there to make updates to the Rec Center building.
In the past, the council has approved using money from that account for other Parks and Rec projects.
Mc Auly said he didn’t know precisely what the amount was that is in that account, but he thought it was near $50,000. He added that the city has invested around $50,000 into the Rec Center building over the past six years.
“The council was for it then, now, who knows,” Mc Auly said. “I think there is a lot we can do with that building with the money we have left, if the council would like to.”
Mc Auly said a lot of people have spoken to him about their displeasure at the possibility of losing that building.
“I think it would be cool if we could promote that building,” Dunlavy said. “I think there is history there. I think it could be a real asset. But the time and energy has to be put into it.”
Krause had a different opinion about the building. He said it is falling down on the outside and inside, has inadequate heating, and it is unsafe for the handicapped.
“Why are we pumping money into it or even thinking of doing that when the place is falling down,” Krause said.
He said he would gladly agree to sell the building for $1 to anyone who wanted to buy it.
“I think the city made a mistake when it bought for $1,” Krause said.
Mc Auly said the plaster falling off the pillars is cosmetic, that the foundation and roof of the building are solid.
“One thing we have to do is have a plan for everything that is in there,” Mc Auly said.