'What do you think would be good here?' Town of RF invites residents to share thoughts on new government center site
The current River Falls Town Hall is located at the Randall School House, at the intersection of 770th Avenue (Randall Road) and Highway 65. The historic one-room schoolhouse also serves as a polling place for the town.
With no internet, no air conditioning, no running water or indoor plumbing, it's not an easy place for poll workers to spend long election days, said Town Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald.
The town also doesn't currently have an office for Rodewald's zoning administrator position or for the town clerk.
In addition, Rodewald said, the town garage is inadequate to the town's needs.
The town has been saving money for about 10 years, looking to purchase land for a new town hall.
The town finally has a location thanks to the Meents family. Bruce Meents sold the town land located across the road from his home at N7975 Highway 65, just down the road from the current town hall.
Town Chair Diana Smith said the Meents family and the town have history. Bruce Meents' father, Richard, was town chair for 10 years. Bruce's father-in-law was also on the town board.
"So being civic-minded runs in the Meents family," Smith said.
According to Smith, the town plans to pay off the land before it starts work on the new town government center.
"We've been saving for the last 10 years, and we saved half of it," Rodewald said. If the town stays on the same schedule, it could take another 10 years to pay off the land. "We'd like to accelerate that if we could but it's not something we're going to (start) next year."
Smith is excited.
"It's really exciting to me, because when we were looking at places and trying to figure out where we could move and where we could build, so we could continue to meet the needs of our residents," Smith said. "We never envisioned anything quite like this."
The town's newly-purchased land is 30 acres, 20 of which is currently in crops, rented to a local farmer. Those 20 acres will continue to be in crops at least until the town develops a plan for the location and implements it, Rodewald said. It may still be in crops after that point, depending on the plan the town develops.
"This just gives us so many options," Rodewald said.
Currently the land holds a shed and an old silo. The silo, Smith and Rodewald said, will be preserved.
The town is planning a land dedication for 1-3 p.m. Oct. 28.
"We have an engineer who designed some options for what we could do," Smith said. The plan is to "just invite everybody who wants to come and see what we've done and give townspeople and anyone an option to say 'What do you think would be good here?'"
Though some concepts have been drawn up, Smith said the town has made no decision and is not yet sure what exactly they want done, beyond a new town hall/government center and a new town shop.
"It's got so many possibilities and we just don't have any idea what those possibilities might be," Smith said.