9/25/2013 10:44:00 AM Input from public meeting on future of Makee Manor favors sale of the property
by Julie Berg-Raymond
Converting Makee Manor into a jail for Allamakee County is not a viable option, according to a recently completed feasibility study and needs assessment undertaken by Midwest Construction Consultants (MCC) of Houghton. That's the message that was delivered again to area residents and other interested parties at a public meeting held Monday, September 16 in regard to the county-owned structure located north of Waukon on Highway 9. About 14 people attended the town hall meeting conducted by the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors and during which MCC’s president, John Hansen, and Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick addressed the issues raised by repurposing the 27,000-square foot building as a jail and law enforcement center. “We found out pretty early on that it wouldn’t work,” Hansen said, citing code issues that would require new sprinklers, electrical work and ceiling tiles. Mellick said security also was a concern. “Ultimately, you’d like to keep your jail attached to your courthouse,” he said. “Every time you move someone from one place to another, it’s a security issue for the county.” “One thing we know is we have to do something with the jail,” Mellick added. “We’re short of space here at the courthouse. We’ve looked at that option, and the state jail inspector is not in favor (of it).” Following remarks made by Hansen and Mellick, the Board opened the meeting to public discussion of Makee Manor’s future. Allamakee County Supervisor Sherry Strub identified four options currently being considered by the Board: finding a new tenant; re-purposing the building; tearing the building down; and selling the building. “Not one of them is a good solution,” she said. “We’re looking for community input.” An informal poll of those present favored selling the building to an outside interested person. “We’re certainly open to that,” Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer said, adding low-income housing or moderate-income housing might be a good option. One audience member said he’d “rather see it torn down, than sitting with weeds all around it”; another suggested the possibility of having the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “That’s what makes this decision so hard. It’s an historic icon of our county,” Strub said. Schellhammer agreed, saying, “we know that whatever decision we make isn’t going to be the right one.” Strub said the Board needs to make a decision soon about what to do with the building and property. “We are looking at any suggestions or input from county citizens,” she said. People wishing to offer suggestions may contact the Board of Supervisors by calling 563-568-3522 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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