Winneshiek County supervisors voted 3-1 Wednesday morning to pay up to $10,400 of the contract to deconstruct the Caretaker's House on the Wellington Place property. However, supervisors also voted to ask the Oneota Historic Future Alliance to pay the county $5,000 by December 31st.
Two years ago OHFA had entered into a contract with the county to find a tenant for the Caretaker's House or to pay the costs of tearing down the building. OHFA president Jim Burns told supervisors again on Wednesday that OHFA could not pay the entire $12,400 cost of hiring TSC Construction of Dubuque to deconstruct the building. Burns said OHFA has only $2,517 remaining in its savings and checking accounts after spending $3,200 on removing asbestos from the Caretaker's House. Burns told supervisors the demand for $5,000 could bankrupt the organization, to which County Board Chairman Les Askelson responded, "We understand that." But Askelson said the county wanted as much as possible to recover the money it was spending.
Earlier, Burns told supervisors fundraising for the Caretaker's House has "dried up." He also said the sale of bricks and other materials from the former East Side School had not gone well: "There doesn't appear to be a sufficient market for recycled building materials."
Decorah resident Julie Fisher urged supervisors to leave the building standing, noting that once it is deconstructed, "it is gone forever." However, supervisor Steve Bouska noted that if the building had to be torn down in the future, the deconstruction costs could very well double.
Bouska, Askelson and John Logsdon voted in favor of spending the $10,400 on the deconstruction, with supervisor Lonnie Pierce voting "no." Supervisor Bill Ibanez was absent.