CALEDONIA — Caledonia’s Village Board decided to move forward with building a new garage and offices for its Highway Department in spite of some sticker shock.
Initially, Caledonia had planned on razing the former village hall at 6922 Nicholson Road to build a new structure for the highway department for $2.5 million. But at Monday’s meeting, Jon P. Wallenkamp from Kueny Architects and Todd Peyron from Camosy Construction told the board its least expensive option would cost around $3.5 million.
The recommended option would use some of the basic structure of the former village hall as the building blocks for the new highway department facility.
Trustee Kevin Wanggaard was concerned that the former village hall’s issues with leaks and mold would continue to plague the new facility.
“Every time I go in there, in that building, it’s very negative,” Wanggaard said. “We’ve had people get sick in there.”
Wallenkamp and Peyron said that any treatment for asbestos or mold would have to be done for demolition anyway. As for leaks, the new structure would have a new roof and only the north and east walls of the current building would be used as exterior walls and would be resealed.
“The bones of the structure have value,” Peyron said.
Village President Jim Dobbs expressed frustration that Kueny and Camosy had initially said they could do the job for $2.5 million and then were coming back with the higher estimate. Peyron and Wallencamp said that after speaking with Highway Operations Supervisor Bill Jacoby and assessing the options, they felt they had to come back to the board and present their plans.
Trustee Jay Benkowski, who was on the special committee formed for the project, assured the board the recommended plans reflected the needs of the highway department.
“The building is modest,” Benkowski said. “It’s not a palace … it can’t be said that we’re not being respectful or fiscally prudent for today’s taxpayers.”
The board briefly discussed putting the project off for one year but decided against it. With Foxconn coming to Racine County, many of the trustees believe the construction labor shortage will be exacerbated and overall construction costs will go up.
Peyron said they were confident they could keep construction close to the $3.5 million budget but if President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs happen it could throw off the cost of materials.
“I can’t control the price of steel. I can’t control the price of glass. I can’t control the price of concrete,” Peyron said.
Dobbs said he was concerned not only with the increased cost of this project but of all the other projects that have been pushed forward, in large part due to Foxconn.
The village will have to pay $4 million to Mount Pleasant this summer according to the villages’ memorandum of understanding signed last week, followed by an estimated $24.6 million in the future. Dobbs said the village will probably have to install more water infrastructure for TID 4 as it develops and had planned on spending $4 million next year for a new police station. Additionally the village is expecting health insurance and wages to increase next year.
“I think we need to get a good handle of where all this money is going to come from,” Dobbs said. “It’s going to pay for itself eventually but it’s all hitting very quickly.”
Peyron said they should be able to submit an updated budget to the board in about four weeks. The board voted unanimously to move forward with the project. Trustee Lee Wishau was absent.
“It’s not a palace … it can’t be said that we’re not being respectful or fiscally prudent for today’s taxpayers.” Jay Benkowski, village trustee