Port council expected to approve purchase of converted church that served as center since 2011
The Port Washington Common Council on Wednesday was expected to finalize the purchase of the former St. John’s Lutheran Church for the Senior Center.
Aldermen were expected to act on a resolution authorizing officials to close the deal on the Senior Center and to consider financing for the purchase.
Officials announced in February that they had reached an agreement to pay $415,000 for the former church at 403 W. Foster St.
The senior center has been located in the building since 2011, with the city leasing the building from KAB Enterprises LLC, which is owned by Jan and Paul Schueller.
In return, the Schuellers have agreed to donate $15,000 to the city to extend the INFOS Port Washington system, a real-time beach safety measure, to the south beach, officials said.
Although there have been some complaints about the senior center, city officials note that purchasing the building will ensure seniors have a place to go.
While several committees had recommended the city instead buy the Aurora Medical Center building at 1777 W. Grand Ave. and renovate it as a community and senior center, a project estimated to cost $1.25 million, officials said that could take years since the seniors had not yet begun to raise funds for the purchase.
The city’s decision in January to make an offer to buy the former church ends a years-long debate over where the senior center should be housed.
For decades, the center was located in the former fire station at the corner of Pier and Wisconsin streets in downtown. But a number of problems, including a lack of accessibility, forced the city to seek a new building for the center.
Although the Commission on Aging explored a number of ideas, the city opted to lease the former church in a complex deal to keep Franklin Energy in Port Washington.
Franklin Energy, which had its offices in the former church, moved to the upper floor of the Smith Bros. Marketplace building in downtown in exchange for the city leasing its former home for the Senior Center.
The city spent $235,300 to renovate the building, including the installation of an elevator. But seniors have been vocal in expressing concerns about the building, particularly the lack of convenient parking and accessibility issues.
Two years ago, aldermen said they did not want to provide a senior center facility, although they were willing to provide programming and staff,.
But with concerns swirling over the fate of the Senior Center, the Common Council agreed in January to make an offer to buy the former church.