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Music House a new option?

January 13, 2012

Commissioner Kim Fruechte

    It's been said all along that without everyone on board, a new city-county building in Decatur likely wouldn't happen.
    At Thursday's meeting attended by a number of city and county officials, two of the three Adams County commissioners expressed opposition, but one offered a possible alternative.
    Commissioner Doug Bauman said the antiquated superior court building "needs work beyond what we can afford to fix."
    However, noting that it could cost an estimated $60,000 just to get a proposal for a new building on the November ballot, with no guarantees the request for a tax increase would pass, Bauman said, "We (county) don't have $50,000 to $60,000 to expend right now." Saying he appreciates all the effort and time spent to get to the latest meeting, Bauman added: "At this point I'm not in favor of proceeding."
    Commissioner Kim Fruechte said that asking for a tax increase (through a referendum) now "is like playing Russian Rhoulette."
    He went on to explain that a local attorney, on Thursday morning, suggested to him that the former Music House in downtown Decatur is a possible alternative. Fruechte said it has three floors and an elevator, and some 23,000 square feet, not a lot less than the proposed new building.
    The purchase price was said to be approximately $90,000..
    It is possible that the county could renovate the structure and convert it into a court building. "I certainly don't went to lose our good relationship with the city, but I'm just offering an option," Fruechte said.
    Later, Schenkel and Schultz Vice President Dave Sholl said, purely basing the estimate on the building's square footage, a cost to renovate the building would be at  least $2.5 million. Sholl and another member of the architectural firm, Decatur native Cory Miller, attended the meeting. They have been working for some time with local officials on putting together a proposal for a city-county building.
    Another possibility, according to Decatur City Attorney Tim Baker, at the behest of Mayor John Schultz, would be for the county to construct a building and lease a part of it to the county.
    He emphasized that nothing along those lines had been discussed with city council, adding: "We're just throwing it out there for you to consider."
    "No matter what happens, we will continue our good relationship," Mayor Schultz said.
    Baker pointed out that with interest rates "at historic lows" and construction highly competitive, the city will eventually proceed with its own agenda if nothing works out with the county.

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