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Local

Park District OKs initial transfer of Nehring building to city

City also set to hold vote on agreement Monday

Doug Eaton, who works as a planning technician for the city of DeKalb, was sworn in Thursday to a two-year term on the DeKalb Park District Board of Commissioners. He will serve as Commissioner until April 2021.
Doug Eaton, who works as a planning technician for the city of DeKalb, was sworn in Thursday to a two-year term on the DeKalb Park District Board of Commissioners. He will serve as Commissioner until April 2021.

DeKALB – After a June stalemate that halted the transfer of ownership of a former bank downtown to the city for the new city hall, the DeKalb Park District’s Board of Commissioners approved the preliminary transfer Thursday, with a new fifth member abstaining.

With newly sworn-in commissioner Doug Eaton abstaining because he works for the City of DeKalb, the board approved the preliminary transfer of what is known as the Nehring building, a former bank built in 1892 that soon will be used to house the new city hall downtown.

Eaton was sworn in by Commissioner Gail Krmenec, bringing the board up to five members. The vote was 3-0, however, because Eaton abstained and Commissioner Dean Holliday arrived to the meeting later in the evening.

The DeKalb City Council is set to vote on that intergovernmental agreement Monday, according to city documents. The city would pay $1 for the property, and the agreement states that the park district would have the right to buy the building again if the city determined it no longer wanted to preserve the existing facade, according to city documents.

In the park district’s June meeting, the transfer of ownership stalled because of a 2-2 tie vote, because no fifth member yet had been appointed and Krmenec and Holliday did not support the resolution – which otherwise would have given Executive Director Amy Doll the go-ahead to begin drafting an intergovernmental agreement with the city.

Although Krmenec supported the new resolution – which would allow the city and district to draft an intergovernmental agreement that then will go before each public body for a final future vote – she said emphasizing the building’s history is vital to the agreement.

“I think the intent is to honor Mrs. Nehring’s gift to the city and not just turn it into a parking lot or something,” she said. “I think we have to have restrictions on that deed in terms of what can be done on that property for a number of years.”

The building has a long 127-year history, which culminated in Shirley Nehring, the widow of Paul M. Nehring and the bank’s second-generation owner, gifting the building to the park district in 2001.

The district since has leased out space to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association, who have until Dec. 31 to vacate.

Commissioner Phil Young, president of the board, agreed that stipulations must be made in the agreement to preserve the historic core, regardless of who owns the building.

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