The DeKalb Park District and the City of DeKalb are making plans to relocate city hall functions to the Park District's historic downtown property at 164 E. Lincoln Highway. The former Nehring building dates back to 1892 when it was occupied by the DeKalb National Bank and Sheets and Knodle Hardware. It was owned by First National Bank of DeKalb from 1902 to 1966.
DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said the move makes financial sense.
“We’re in a building that we can’t afford to be in anymore," he said, "because that building was made for a larger city government. We’re going smaller.”
There are now around 30 employees in a facility built to house more than 80. Nicklas said the move to a smaller space would help the city save on utilities and maintenance costs. And the Park District has agreed to transfer the property at no cost to the city.
But the main reason he thinks it’s a good idea?
“Foot traffic," he said. "There’s isn’t an office or a business downtown that’s going to say that foot traffic isn’t important. I think the other thing is, it’s a commitment to the downtown.”
Nicklas said the Park District made improvements to the former bank, so it’s in good shape as well as handicapped accessible. He said the layout of the old bank building will also allow for a more customer-friendly environment.
The current city hall on South Fourth Street was built in 1967.
Nicklas said the city and DeKalb Public Library Executive Director Emily Faulkner have discussed a partnership to move the monthly City Council and Planning and Zoning meetings to the Yasunas meeting room in the lower level of the DeKalb Public Library. He said the room has more space than the present council chamber and the facilities are more accessible and accomodating as well.
The City Council will consider a resolution to confirm its intent to accept the transfer on May 28. The Park Board will take similar action at its regular meeting on June 20th.