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Council adds $2 million for land purchase to five-year financial plan

The five-year financial plan for Hudson's public safety departments includes $2 million for the purchase of a site for a new public safety building in 2015.

The City Council decided on May 23 to include the figure in the plan after an extended discussion about the potential cost of a new building, and the possibility of sharing a facility with St. Croix County.

The council has been going through an exercise with financial advisor Sean Lentz of Ehlers and Associates of establishing a five-year plan for all of the city's capital expenditures.

The future public safety building was left off the first draft of the plan and the council wanted it included the next version.

When the Public Safety Committee met May 9, it decided to include the $2 million for land acquisition in 2015 and $13 million for construction of the facility in 2016.

Public Safety Chair Mary Yacoub explained to the council that the committee used the figure from a 2009 analysis by Frisbie Architects for the cost of the building. She acknowledged that the Frisbie plan included features that probably aren't needed now.

For example, Hudson now has a private gun range (Bill's Gun Shop & Range) with lanes set aside for law enforcement officers.

"It's just a shot in the dark," Yacoub said later in an apparent reference to both the cost of the land acquisition and the building. She agreed that the projected cost of a new building needed to be revised.

Mayor Alan Burchill said city officials have been having "preliminary conversations" with St. Croix County officials about the possibility of sharing land and a facility at the County Government Center site on Carmichael Road.

Burchill said the county is considering an expansion and updating of its courthouse facilities, which will be necessary when it gets a fifth circuit court judge. The city, he said, has a need for a second fire station.

The mayor also noted that the expectation in 2009 was that the police department would be housed in the new public safety building.

He asked Police Chief Marty Jensen if the space the department now occupies in the building at 700 First St. is adequate for its needs.

Jensen replied that the current police facilities are "more than adequate." He said the 18,000 square feet also provided enough room for the department to expand.

"We're happy with it," Jensen said of the First Street building, which also houses the Hudson Area Library.

Burchill characterized the projected $13 million cost for a public safety building in 2009 as "pretty aggressive."

Alderperson John Hoggatt cautioned against reducing the estimate too much.

Council President Rich Vanselow said he wanted funding for a public safety building included in the financial plan so the city will be able to act if the county decides to expand its facilities.

Yacoub said that including $2 million in the plan for a land purchase said to her that "we are moving forward with something."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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