EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. (KCRG-TV9) -- City leaders in East Dubuque, Illinois, have different opinions on where to move city hall.
Some people say it's too expensive to build a new City Hall downtown. Others think leaving the downtown area sends the wrong message, since the city is having a hard time retaining businesses downtown.
Right now, city hall is located at 185 Wisconsin Avenue near downtown East Dubuque. The city's lease is up on that building and city leaders say it's simply too small.
Randy Degenhardt has seen a lot of changes in downtown East Dubuque as he's been a member of the city council for 41 years.
"I've seen it when it was booming. Back when you couldn't find a place to park here on the weekends. Now you could shoot a cannon down the street, “said Degenhardt.
Degenhardt admits many businesses left Sinsinawa Avenue after the city council stopped granting permits for adult entertainment bars. That was a change he voted for in order to improve the city's overall reputation.
"We had a bad image. Sin City. So we tried to clean everything up, “said Degenhardt.
The city owns four empty lots in the heart of the downtown area. Degenhardt says that’s the perfect place to build a brand new City Hall. If that new building also included a new police station, it would cost the city about $927,000.
"We're trying to get new businesses here. If we move our city hall outside of town, what's that saying?” said Degenhardt.
A few miles away, on the edge of town along Highway 35, a new office building sits empty. The city is considering purchasing that building to house city hall and the police department. The price tag is $550,000. That's $375,000 cheaper than building downtown.
"Obviously we don't have a lot of money. We're in Illinois, “said East Dubuque Mayor Dan Welp.
Welp says he recognizes the need for new business downtown. He says putting City Hall in this spot would do more harm than good.
"I don't think that's right. I think if we take that spot we're saying we don't have faith in it. That's the best spot to build for business right now and if we keep it available somebody will come in there, “said Welp.
Degenhardt notes, there are different options for building downtown that wouldn't cost the city so much money.
But both council members agree, they must do what's best for the city. And it needs to happen fast.
The council will hold a public input meeting to find out where the community wants to re-locate City Hall. That's Thursday night starting at 6:30 at East Dubuque High School.