A multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of both DeForest Village Hall and the Public Safety Building could be approved as early as next Tuesday by village trustees now that favorable contractor bids are in hand.

Village staff last week received four bids for the project that Bray Architects had estimated as having a $6.3 million price tag. The totals ranged from $6.38 million on the high side to the low bid of $6.18 million by Vogel Bros. Building Co. of Madison.

“We’re excited that the bids all came so relatively close, which means we had good, quality numbers from the start,” said village clerk LuAnn Leggett.

Leggett has shepherded village staff and elected officials throughout the planning process for the major project, which is designed to alleviate cramped conditions in both buildings and allow each to better serve the growing community’s needs.

Village Hall, a former bank, was purchased in 1974 and last updated a decade ago. All of the building’s existing office space, according to Leggett and other employees, has been maxed out. Meeting and storage space is also hard to come by.

“We had a prime example of our space crunch last week,” Leggett said of voting held at Christ Lutheran Church. “We had the largest primary turnout in my tenure at the village and were not able to host that in any of our buildings because they are too small.

“Hosting elections are one of the basic services we provide as a village, and this is a glaring example of why we need to do these projects,” she added. “It’s significant to say we couldn’t even host our own election.”

Another example was the official announcement on April 7 that the Little Potato Company will break ground on a new $20 million office and production facility in DeForest. The ceremony was held at DeForest Area Community & Senior Center, and scheduling conflicts had to be resolved to make even that possible.

“More and more events like these are occurring away from our facilities and that is becoming a problem,” said Leggett, who has resided in the village since 1992.

The story is similar across the alley at the Public Safety Building, constructed back in 1997. Since then the police force has grown from 10 to 17 officers and the village’s square mileage rose 130 percent while adding 2,000 new residents. Police chief Robert Henze and Lt. Daniel Furseth have each testified before trustees to note that office space, evidence and vehicle storage, and meeting rooms are hard to come by.

Leggett said village staff are in contract negotiations with Vogel Brothers representatives. The hope is to have things buttoned up in time for discussion and possible action at the April 19 Village Board meeting.

“We all believe this is a win-win for the community as a whole, not just for village staff,” said Leggett. “That’s important to know. This is going to help everyone.”

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As posted by DeForest Times-Tribune, April 14, 2016