LA CROSSE, Wis. - The La Crosse County Board is one step closer to determining the future of its county administrative building.
It's a project that's been in the works for months, but board members say they're running out of time to make a decision.
The county board wrapped up its meeting on Thursday night, and while they didn't make a final decision, they did eliminate a few options.
Board members say on the surface, the La Crosse County Administrative Center looks old but not dangerous.
But lift up the ceiling tiles, and it's a different story.
"There's an asbestos-containing fireproofing that's sprayed onto all those different beams or columns, and that was probably one of the first things that was done in the 1960s when the building was built," said Rick Stickler, with Midwest Environmental Management Company.23460928
If they do any type of renovation or maintenance on the building, the employees' health is at risk.
"The problem with that building is that it's a forced-air building and so air recirculates in it, so you don't want to do just part of the job, because you have viable asbestos, which is an airborne contaminant and causes lung problems," said Stickler.
Which is why the county is trying to decide whether to pour a couple million dollars into asbestos abatement and renovate the center or build brand-new at a different location.
"We've been obtaining a lot of data about the different options that we have for the Administrative Center," said County Board member Joe Veenstra.
Other than remodeling, the county could build on either side of the Health and Human Services building.
"I'm personally leaning toward one of the Human Services building options. It has somewhat of an effect on parking, but I don't think it's deleterious. It would put the current Administrative Center site on the property tax rolls," said Veenstra.
But no matter where it would be located, if they build new, they have to decide within the next month so that 360 Real Estate can get started remodeling the current Administrative Center into student housing.
"Their time frame is important because they need to get the building done to be available for students," said Veenstra.
County Board members say all the options are relatively similar in cost.
At Thursday night's meeting, the board decided to remove the option of constructing a new building across from the courthouse.
County Board members say the plan they choose will also need to be affordable and keep all county buildings in the same area.
They hope to have plans finalized by the end of January.
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