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Caledonia took one step closer to building a new village hall at its meeting held Monday, but one board member said he voted against the project because the staff hadn’t done enough due diligence.

In 5 to 1 vote, the Village Board approved hiring New Berlin-based Anderson Ashton Design/Building to develop design plans for a $3.5 million, 12,470 square-foot village hall on the northeast corner of Chester Lane and Four Mile Road. This includes spending $1 million on furniture, equipment and having a contingency fund.

The resolution allows the architecture firm to move forward with putting together the designs, but the plans would still need to receive final approval from the village board before being bid out to a construction firm. Still, the project met with some criticism.

Village trustee Lee Wishau said he voted against the project because the village didn’t seek out any opinions from other architects, the project didn’t include a community space, the village didn’t get an estimate to fix the current facility, and the space featured offices not cubicles.

“I think it (the cost of fixing the current facility) would have been excessive, but we should have gotten that,” he said. “We should have also sought out the opinions of other architects too. Do you go to a car dealer and buy the first car you see and pay the sticker price? Or do you shop around? And we didn’t do any of that.”

Wishau asked how many of Anderson Aston’s projects went over budget.

William Matthews, project manager for Anderson Ashton, explained that the majority of the budget overages are created by the owners making changes to the design. But he wasn’t sure how many of those projects went over budget.

“But we’re pretty much on budget all of the time because they are contracts,” Matthews said. “All owners tend to get involved and ask for things. We give them that as opportunity, if they want it. So it’s not our choice.”

Village trustee Ed Willing explained that he wasn’t looking to assign blame, but he just wondered if the village should make sure to build contingencies into the budget.

“I was a little bit concerned that there was not the foresight to build in contingencies into the plan that we had,” he said.

Village administrator Tom Christensen said the new village hall would not have the capacity for a community space, but the East Side Community Center would still be available until they sell it.

“It was suggested that once the new village hall was built, the old village hall not be razed right away,” Christensen said. “So we will have some time to come up with some ideas on a new community center area. But I don’t look at this village hall as a community center.”

Christensen said the concept plans were designed with the idea that the building could be expanded in the future.

Wishau asked if a second floor could be added to the project, but Matthews said adding a second floor would likely be cost prohibitive and recommended that the board add-on to the building since they have 26 acres of land to work with.

“I think it’s important to recognize that we’re not giving the final ‘go’ on this tonight,” Christensen said. “We still have to go through the public bidding process for all the construction. Then we’ll get numbers back and know exactly what this is going to cost.”

If the project receives final approval, the project is expected to start sometime this summer.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.