Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Winona Police and Fire Departments may soon be merged into one new facility, which would be built in place of a community rec center. There are multiple buildings in the city of Winona that need an upgrade.

Mayor Scott Sherman says the police station, central fire station, Friendship Center, and East End Rec Center require significant maintenance, but working on each facility separately would be an expensive prospect. As a result, the city is considering a plan to build two new buildings; one that houses police and fire under one roof, and another that combines the rec and friendship centers.

Sherman believes it’s the best option available.

“When you look at what would potentially fall onto the local taxpayer if we weren’t to combine the facilities, I’m afraid that some, one, two, maybe even three might not get done because the funding just isn’t there for it.”

The proposal before the city calls for the new public safety building to be built on the site of the East End rec center, but then the rec center would move across the street and replace St. Stan’s school, if the city can purchase the property.

“Going into the fall of 2024, they will have no use for that building any longer, and so we have started negotiations with the diocese.”

However, some community members aren’t in favor of tearing down the east end rec.

Dozens of residents spoke out at last week’s city council meeting with concerns over replacing the rec with a police and fire station. Sherman says the broad scope of the project would result in a better rec center for the community.

“While we would remove the current East End rec facility, we would build it bigger, and also improve upon what is currently there.”

There’s no definitive timeframe for when the city council will vote on the public safety building plan. The city of Winona is planning to hold more public input sessions about the proposal. More information will be released in the coming months.