Wheatland moving toward referendum for new fire station

The Wheatland Town Board appears ready to have a referendum about whether to build a new station for the Town of Wheatland Fire Department.

At Monday’s regular Town Board meeting, town Chairman William Glembocki directed town officials to get together the necessary information so formal steps could be taken by mid November in anticipation of a referendum timed with the February primary election.

A referendum would need 70 days lead time.

At issue is whether the town should proceed with the building of a new eight-bay fire station to replace the current, 40-plus year old facility in New Munster.

A plan put together by a committee of department leadership, town Supervisor Kelly Wilson and representatives of Scherrer Construction called for a new building with an estimated cost of $3.9 million. Glembocki and town Supervisor Andrew Lois have called the price tag too high. Denko contends the proposal could last the department for 50 years, including expansion of services needed with anticipated future local growth.

At Monday’s meeting, Denko reported on a series of informational meetings on the plans held over recent weeks. A total of 54 community members attended the meetings.

“I think it was helpful for people to ask their questions,” Denko said.

However, Wilson seemed to be disappointed at the turnout.

“It’s kind of disappointing to only have 54 people attend, but that’s how it is,” Wilson said.

Committee member Jim Scherrer, whose company was hired by the Town Board as construction manager, said in his experience the turnout to the meetings actually was not bad.

“Don’t let it discourage you,” Scherrer advised.

Denko said he would like to have yet at least one more informational meeting, perhaps with the Town Board present as well.

The board seemed open to more meetings, but did not authorize any more fire station meeting dates after town attorney Jeffrey Davison said it should not be done Monday as that action was not noticed on the meeting’s agenda.

Davison also reported on some other necessary steps for building a new fire station.

Since Wheatland is a town, a resolution to build a new fire station and another resolution to finance the necessary amount would need to pass a majority of electors at a regular town electors meeting or a special town electors meeting, Davison said.

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