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Deadline looms for parking lot completion

County will ask Morris for financial assistance

The Grundy County Facilities Committee Thursday discussed finishing the parking lot where the old Save-A-Lot was located and intend to ask the Morris City Council for their financial assistance.

The Grundy County Public Building Commission purchased the empty grocery store for $500,000 during an open sale at the beginning of the 2011. The store has since been demolished and the property is now a gravel lot.

The PBC owns the property and is leasing it to the county at an annual lease equal to the amount owed each year in payments on the bonds issued to purchase the property. Once the bonds are paid off, the county will become the owner.

The PBC authorized the financing for the plans for the lot said County Administrator Shawn Hamilton.

But the PBC does "not have any money," said Grundy County Board Chairman Ron Severson so the county is responsible for the construction of the lot.

"The city requires it to be done in a year, but the PBC has no money so what if the county says no? Can the city sue?" asked Severson.

Assistant State's Attorney Susan Bates said the city could sue.

The cost to complete the lot is estimated at $200,000, said Hamilton. About $180,000 would be for the lot itself and $20,000 for lighting.

Severson said when the county board took a vote on the PBC purchasing the property he said then he wanted to wait in order for the county to save money to construct the lot. But the vote went through and now it has to be taken out of the General Fund.

Committee vice-chairman Eric Rasmusson, who acted as chairman Thursday, and Severson discussed asking the city council for an extension on the required one year-completion.

"It's going to benefit Morris too," said Rasmusson.

"It benefits Morris more. Maybe they could put in (money for the lot)," said Severson.

Severson said he would contact Mayor Richard Kopczick.

Friday Kopczick said Severson and he had spoken and it would have to go through the committee process and then before council.

"He did come in and I let him know it will go forward to committee for further discussion. Once he gets me the plans (for the design of the lot) it will then go to committee to see what we can do," said Kopczick.

In other business, the facilities committee voted to rescind its previous action authorizing the expenditure of up to $5,000 for a study of the administration's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that has been having issues.

"The health department in the summer have sweaters on because they're cold and in winter they are running fans because they're hot," said Severson.

Rasmusson, and member Ken Iverson voted in favor of this, but member Ann Gill did not.

Severson had suggested taking the $5,000 and putting it toward having the problem fixed rather than doing a study since the company fixing the problem would be the same one that would do the study and therefore any further problems found could be brought to the company's engineer. The company is Johansen & Anderson.

"It's an old system. It's been here a long time and you know you have some system-wide issues that have not been identified yet," said Bates when asked her opinion by Rasmusson.

She continued that doing $5,000 worth of work doesn't mean it would fix all of the problems. 

"I think we need to find out what the problems are first instead of just throwing $5,000 at it," said Gill. "We need to find out for the long term."

Iverson questioned if the study would really cost $5,000. Severson said that was what the county was told it would cost.

Iverson said he would rather rescind the action the committee previously took and ask for the company to come before the facilities committee to talk to them about the cost.

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