BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – ‘Tis the season to be thinking of referendums.
At Tuesday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors, board members heard discussion on putting a referendum on the ballot for a new health dept. building.
Board member Matt Pflug said the health building committee would like a commitment from the board on the property.
“Actually, we have an opportunity for two pieces of land, but if we go right here by the sheriff’s office, we would be saving taxpayers roughly $55,000. So we’re looking at bringing the bond back on May 2 is what the board of health would like to do.” Pflug said.
Pflug said other locations considered were right behind Comfort Inn and Suites in Fort Madison and behind the Fort Madison Community Hospital. He said the hospital location would be a more costly option.
“I think they were open to that, however, they would probably be looking a ways back (from the hospital) and a lot of prep work. The other two you would have utilities right there plus the concrete road is right there,” he said.
“If the county jail ever wanted to expand we would want that in this area as well,” Fedler said. “If the (health building) committee considered OK’ing this it would have to be down at the far west end of the property so we had room for expansion if this ever needed to expand. It seems that when it was originally built they wanted to rent out cells to other counties, and here we are full most of the time.”
“As far as being responsible to the tax payers if we own the property and there’s nothing on it now, we should consider it,” Pflug said.
“Again when we were looking at the two properties, the owner was going to raise the price some again. We haven’t talked to him again, and you’re probably looking at $55,000 to $60,000 for that property.”
Board member Gary Folluo asked if the building would have a basement.
“This area has a water table and there’s an extra cost associated with dealing with that,” Folluo said.
Julie Schilling, Lee County Health Department administrator, said the basement would be for storage and HVAC and furnace type area for your equipment. Pflug said it would also provide a safe haven for customers in the event of a storm and designs would include a ramp to the basement for ADA compliance.
“We have looked at facilities in the past and others when they are brought up to us, and we are looking at another this week,” Schiller said. Some are too small and some are larger than we needed, some aren’t handicap accessible and some need quite a bit of work.
Folluo asked Schilling if finding a suitable existing building to replace the current health department building at the Kensington could come in under the $2.2 million the bond would seek.
Schilling said that would be totally dependent on any potential building and what work would need to be done and hard estimates would have to be in place. She also said current plans are for an approximate 11,000 square foot building that did include a basement.
“It seems like we’ve been talking about this for years,” Board member Rick Larkin said.
“The need is there. It’s not just that we’re outgrowing The Kensington, but I think it’s time we let the people decide if we should pull the trigger on this,” Pflug said.
“The backup plan is we still have an ongoing agreement with The Kensington to be in there, but if we did this 20 years ago this would be bought and paid for… It’s important that your health dept. has that professional look, and it’s a premiere health department in the state of Iowa.”
Fedler asked the committee to bring back some additional information.
“I think we need to see some drawings and a plan so we can get a more informed look as to how much property it’s going to take and right now we really don’t know.”
The board will meet again on Tuesday, Dec. 27.