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Fennville eyes former bank for city hall

Fennville eyes former bank for city hall

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The Fennville City Commission Monday continued exploring the idea of acquiring a former bank property for a new city hall, Commercial Record correspondent Jim Hayden reported in his Bicycle Base Fennville blog.

Chemical Bank closed at 125 S. Maple St. in December 2017, wrote Hayden, who is also a city commission member.

The building on 0.71 acre is for sale for $175,000. A developer approached the commission to change the zoning so he could put four apartments at the site, but has not returned to the city to formally seek that rezoning.

Commissioners Monday were hesitant about spending money for the building. “I suggest we get more information,” said Commissioner Jim Suerth.

Mayor Tom Pantelleria said the former bank building is centrally located, about a block closer to downtown than the current city hall, 222 S. Maple St., and comes with significant parking spaces used by downtown businesses. The current city hall would then be used by the department of public works for offices and storage.

“In 10 to 20 years from now, the citizens will thank us for moving there,” Pantelleria said.

Some commissioners were cautious about a possible property purchase. The city recently raised water rates and will need to do so again to fund $7 million in infrastructure repairs over the next 10 years, according to Commissioner Shawn Machan.

“I don’t want the wrong message to get out,” he said.

Commissioner Danielle Brien agreed. “I don’t know if now is the right time,” she said.

The city recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a $1.25 million loan for the water and sewer work.

The current city hall is structurally sound and recently had a new roof put on, Pantelleria said.

He will meet with the Realtor and report back to the commission.