Dane County Board members agreed to buy a day resource center for the homeless early Friday despite concerns about renovation costs and the site’s distance from Downtown.
County staff members proposed paying $330,000 for a property at 1490 Martin off Fish Hatchery Road in the town of Madison.
County Board member Kyle Richmond argued for delaying the decision for a month so more can be learned about costs and other questions.
“Just doing something that may not work is not wise,” said Richmond, who represents the area where the property stands.
County officials said they examined properties closer to Downtown, but they were much more costly, in some cases because of the expense of relocating current tenants.
The building on Martin is already being used as a homeless resource center called Hospitality House, which is operated by the nonprofit Porchlight Inc.
After hours of debate, board members voted 26-9 shortly after midnight to buy the property, saying they wanted the improved and expanded center in place before winter.
County staff members want to renovate and expand the facility, adding showers, more toilets, storage space, laundry equipment and meeting rooms where the homeless can receive counseling on employment skills and housing options as well as information on treatment options for medical problems, including mental illness and substance abuse.
You have free articles remaining.
About two dozen of people, most of them in opposition to the site, lined up to speak during a public comment session.
Many said the center should be Downtown because bus service to the South Side isn’t great and because other services for the homeless are easier to reach from the central city.
“It will be hard work to create a center Downtown for our homeless, but we can do it,” said Leslie Ladd of the Arboretum Neighborhood Association. She said the county should put the center Downtown.
Susan Schmitz, of Downtown Madison Inc., said the business group is prepared to donate money to help with the cost of refurbishing the building on Martin.
The number of homeless who will be able to use the facility at one time will be limited to 99 to avoid the need to install a costly sprinkler system in the system under town code, said county Human Services Director Lynn Green said.
The center will have a core group of 300 participants, with a maximum of 125 expected on any given day, but the number at any one time will stay under 100, Green said.
County Department of Administration director Travis Myren said the town’s community well probably will provide enough water pressure for showers and laundry.If not, the county will need to spend money to run a line to city water lines, Myren said. If it becomes too costly, the county will be able to cancel the deal, he said.
County board member Heidi Wegleitner led the effort to budget $600,000 for a day center, but county staff members said no centrally located property could be purchased for that amount. Wegleitner recently said she wants to increase the amount to $4 million for a property with better access to social services.