Holmen Village Board pulls funding from community center

Holmen School District will continue to move forward with center

The Holmen Village Board is pulling its funding from a new community center.

Three area communities, along with the Holmen School District, have been collaborating on the project but with another funding issue, the future is unclear.

To help fund the community center, each of the three communities was asked to contribute a half a million dollars to the project. The Towns of Onalaska and Holland put it to referendum in April; It failed in Onalaska, but passed in Holland.

Village of Holmen officials originally said they were on board to help fund the community center but have now changed their minds, putting the future of the center in limbo.

Plans for a 22,000-square-foot community center in the Village of Holmen are at a standstill after the Holmen Village Board voted against funding the project.

“They said originally they could bond for the money, they didn’t have to go to referendum,” said Laurie Kessler, counselor at Holmen High School.

But since that discussion in March, the board has learned a few things. For example, by law, the village cannot donate to a project it doesn’t own.

“I wasn’t aware that we could not donate that money into a public facility, if we want to donate to the building, we have to own it,” said Nancy Proctor, president of Village of Holmen.

Proctor said the school district would own the building because it would be built on its property.

The board is also concerned about future upkeep of the building.

“Whose going to be in charge of the maintenance in the long term, how much is it going to cost the village long term?” said Proctor. “It could cost us at least $100,000 a year from each municipality to keep it running.”

Although the board is denying funding right now, it does understand the need and will continue to work with the school district to find a solution.

“We will continue to help. We will help, we are not turning it down totally, there are just some barriers that we have to overcome and one is ownership of the building,” said Proctor.

“I think we have a lot of positives going our way and we are committed to seeing what other avenues we can explore,” said Kessler.

The purpose of the community center is to give students a place to go between the hours of 3 and 6 at night because research shows that is when students are most likely to make bad choices.

Now that the school district knows where each municipality stands, school board members will discuss what their next move is, but say they’re not giving up on the project.