Voters in the Town of Grantsburg Wednesday evening approved the purchase of a business building in the village of Grantsburg. When the purchase is completed this summer, The Town of Grantsburg will move its government headquarters into the Craig Selander Architect office at 216 South Oak Street.
The building contains offices and open spaces which will be used for monthly town board meetings, employee and board chairman offices, voting and voter registration.
The vote Wednesday was 31 in favor and a single vote against, which was cast by Town Board Supervisor Tim Curtin. He did not give a reason for his opposition.
Town surrounds village
The Town of Grantsburg is the rural area surrounding the village limits of Grantsburg. Voters at the meeting said the new location in the village will be more centrally located than the current town hall, located one mile south of the village at the corner of Hwy 48-87 and Skog Road.
The current town hall sits on a small corner lot with watersheds to the north and west, limiting its expansion options. It has outdoor toilets, minimal insulation and other factors that would make it costly to renovate.
“The original estimate to modernize the old building was $185,000, but a formal appraisal set the cost closer to $300,000. A new building would cost almost $400,000,” said Town of Grantsburg Chairman Jim Paden.
The Wednesday vote set in motion an agreement in which the Selander office will be purchased using $165,500 in state trust funds via a 20-year loan. Town Chairman Paden estimated an annual cost for the average taxpayer will be $15-20.
“This purchase does three things for us,” Paden said. “First, it gives us a turnkey building we can walk into and begin using. It is in excellent condition.
“Second, we avoid the more costly and time-consuming options of remodeling the old town hall or building a new building at the old site. Either would be a big inconvenience, especially in an election year.
“Third, our Clerk/Treasurer Romey Nelson can move her office into the building so we will have all our services and records under one roof.” Nelson’s office has been located in the Community Bank building, but the Town was asked to vacate that space for a bank expansion.
While it may seem unusual to house the town government in a building outside the town boundaries, Paden said in neighboring Polk County four towns have their government offices in a village.
Historic building, modern addition
The Selander building includes the Burnett County Abstract Company building, built in 1908. It is one of a few Grantsburg structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Paden foresees keeping that building on the Historic Register and turning it into a museum.
Selander purchased the original building in 1995 and renovated it. In 2001, he added the addition that connects to the original building. The new facility housed his architecture office and staff, with off-street parking behind the building in addition to on-street parking on Broadway Avenue and Oak Street.
Selander moves to his home office
Craig Selander has down-sized his business staff and plans to work from a home office. He continues to provide architectural and consulting services in Polk, Burnett, and Washburn counties.
Paden said he has already had inquiries about the current town hall building, which the board will sell along with the land after they move into the village.
At the meeting Wednesday night at the town hall, Paden propped an old sign against the podium while he ran the meeting. The sign reads, “WPA 1938-39” indicating the building is 80 years old and was built as a Depression-Era construction and employment project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided jobs during the Great Depression
“That sign will be going into the museum,” Paden said with a smile.