On January 23, http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com broke the story about plans to raze Washington County’s Annex II and the building housing the County Senior Center.
“They’re just costing us money to keep them,” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said. “The expense is around $20,000 to $40,000 a year; most of it is for boiler heat and some staff maintenance.”
Following the story there was some interest in saving the buildings, particularly the Annex II from the wrecking ball. The property has a strong history in the community; years ago the building was the “asylum for the chronic insane.”
Shortly after the story ran about the county seeking bids to raze the building Kevin Zimmer toured the Annex II with an architect.
Zimmer was set to appear before the Washington County Executive Committee this week to discuss possibly saving the building.
Zimmer received the letter below from County Board Chairman Herb Tennies on Feb. 16.
County Administrator Schoemann has brought your interest in Annex II and the Senior Center to my attention. The County has discussed and approved the current policy direction to demolish the buildings on numerous occasions and will continue to move this project forward in 2016.
As you know, the buildings reside in the center of the County’s southern campus within very close proximity to the County’s 24/7 nursing home. The buildings and potential uses for the County were discussed in detail as part of the County’s 2009 Master planning process.
Both the Senior Center and Annex II buildings received poor ratings in the facility conditions assessment due to high costs of updating the existing structures. With the copy center relocating to the new Administrative Office Building, the Long Term Master Plan recommends demolishing the two buildings allowing for future expansion of the Samaritan Senior Housing complex and parking. ~Master Plan Report by Potter Lawson, Inc.
The overall County direction paired with the ongoing costs associated with maintaining these buildings, led to the identification and approval of the building demolition project last year.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
Sincerely, Herb Tennies, County Board Chair
Zimmer said the county, rather than raze the buildings, should explore options to get them back on the tax rolls.
“I remain convinced the county is making a very wrong decision by tearing not only the Annex II buildings down but also the chapel to the west – where the current senior center is located,” he said.
“Why not give the private sector a chance at investing in these buildings, putting them on the tax roll. If we keep tearing down West Bend we will not have a city left where we can grow a healthy population that will support good jobs and a higher quality of life. What will be the next building that tax payers own, coming down?”
The Washington County Executive Committee meets Thursday, Feb. 25 at 9 a.m.
The agenda can be reviewed here.