ROCK SPRINGS — Rock Springs will tear down its flood-damaged community center whether or not it receives a buyout for the building.
Clerk/Treasurer Jenny Roloff said the village plans to erect another municipal building as part of its relocation plan.
Roloff said the village board approved the item at its March 18 meeting at the village fire station. The community center located on 1st Street in downtown Rock Springs hosted the village office, library, dining hall, kitchen and a reception area.
The community center was ruled substantially damaged from floods that swept through the region late last summer. Four businesses, three houses and an apartment building also were ruled substantially damaged — where costs to fix a structure exceed 50 percent of its value.
Flood Recovery Chairman Jamie Busser said the building would need to meet certain flood plain requirements set by the state since it is located in the flood way. The options were to move the building or tear it down. He said moving expenses totaled over $1 million and the village was concerned the move would affect the building's old structure.
Busser said the building was inundated by seven feet of water in the 2008 floods. He said during the 2018 floods the building had four feet of water on the first floor. The village looked into possibly saving the building in the aftermath of the 2018 floods. At a February community flood meeting, Busser said he was having conversations with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources about the building's future and whether it could be saved.
Busser said the 60 by 120 foot community center is a “working person building” since the village's everyday people helped construct the building. He said it was constructed in late 1940s with land and materials donated by the village, town of Freedom, town of Westfield and town of Reedsburg.
“They did a big fundraiser and they built a huge building,” Busser said.
Busser said once the building is demolished the land will be turned into green space. A deed restriction will be placed on the land so a building cannot be built. Flood Recovery Committee Member Marvin Holtz said the demolition could take place sometime next spring depending on if the village receives a buyout from FEMAs Hazard Mitigation Program.
Holtz said the buyout is going to “determine what funds are available” for a proposed new community center. The village plans to enact its relocation plan sometime next spring. The village also is looking to use Community Development Block Grants to construct portions of the building.
Holtz said he was five years old when the community center was built. The longtime Rock Springs resident is assisting the flood recovery committee to build a proposed one-story, 11,000 square foot municipal building. The village is looking at ADCI as the architect for the project.
Holtz shared a schematic plan for the building at the March 28 flood recovery meeting. The plan includes constructing village offices and two bays for dump trucks and village vehicles. The plan includes constructing a fire station, dining room, a community room for senior citizens and youth activities, library and post office. Busser said the new community center would look similar to the downstairs of the old one.
Busser said the post office on West Broadway Street hasn’t determined whether it would relocate.
Holtz said losing the old community center is a “disaster” and he was sad when he heard the building will be destroyed. However, he realizes it's best option to keep the village moving forward after it went through two major floods in a decade.
“The reality is it can’t be saved and it’s in the flood way,” Holtz said. “We don’t want to go through this again so we better project a building that is going to serve the purposes on high ground.”
The village is looking to purchase four-acre plot of land on Railroad Street for the new structure. At the March 18 meeting, the village board approved hiring an appraiser to look at the value of the land, Roloff said.
Flood Recovery Committee Member Paula Steinhorst said committee members toured the building prior to the meeting. She said the village is hoping to save some materials, like the tin tile and wood in the building, to use for other buildings in the relocation project.
“To keep the historic piece of Rock Springs we are losing,” Steinhorst said.
Busser said another important archive is saving memorial plaques recognizing the people who donated materials for the building when it was first built.
The next flood recovery meeting is April 11 at the fire station on 105 East Broadway Street.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.