WIUM Tristates Public Radio

County Departments Could Share Space

Fort Madison, IA – The Lee County Conservation Board wants to further develop its headquarters. The Lee County Health Department is looking for a new home.

The two departments have announced their plans to combine those efforts. The result would be a new complex along Highway 61, just south of the Lee County Jail.

Administrator Julie Schilling says the facility would improve efficiency for the Lee County Health Department. She says it would get all of her employees under one roof and avoid the need to rotate meetings between Keokuk and Fort Madison.

Schilling says the new complex would also allow for immunization clinics and classrooms.

Conservation Director Tom Buckley says the joint facility would include classrooms for up to 200 people, offices, and exhibit space. He says his department would be interested in hosting traveling nature exhibits and live animal displays.

The complex would also eventually include butterfly gardens, hiking trails, and an observation tower looking out over the Mississippi River.

The next step is a feasibility study. The estimated price tag is around $20,000.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors is supportive of the concept. The panel says it may not be able to help with the funding, though, due to tight budgets.

The goal is for the multi-million dollar facility to be completed within the next five years. Buckley says the two departments will apply for local, state, and federal grants to pay for the project.

An early estimate puts the price tag at around $175/square foot of new construction. That means a 20,000 square foot building could cost around $3.5-million.