PERRYSBURG — The first phase of a new municipal building project has been approved by city council.
A proposal from the Collaborative Inc. was unanimously authorized for $155,000 to move forward with Phase 1 of a new municipal complex. Phase 1 will cost $145,000, plus $10,000 in reimbursables, which will cover architectural and engineering work.
Five members of council toured the building, with Councilman Mark Weber, a retired electrician.
“Anyone who doesn’t believe we need a new municipal building hasn’t taken a close look at this one,” Weber said. “I’ve been in the attic and I’ve been in the basement. What was once a state-of-the-art facility in 1965, with its asbestos insulation and floor tiles, does not meet the current standards for a quality and safe environment for employees.”
Technology is also an issue, Weber said. But there are a host of other problem areas.
“This building was never designed for one computer cable, let alone the miles of cable needed for today’s technology. In fact, there are some parts of the building that are inaccessible for even getting the cable to. There are closets being used as offices, bathroom sinks being used as kitchen sinks, space heaters and portable fans being used to make up for the HVAC systems that are nearing the end of their life. There’s not a single window that does not need replacement in this building,” Weber said.
Council President Jonathan Smith said that the administration building had originally been designed to be a courthouse, with the current council chambers located in the courtroom. He said that a walk-in type of bank vault is still in the building, unused.
Prior to the vote, Smith and Councilman Cory Kuhlman expressed reservations about the second phase of the project.
Smith said he has concerns about rising interest rates. In a followup interview he said he was also concerned about the possible tax collection implications, should there be a recession.
As for the building itself, he wants a firm view of which city departments would be in the new building.
Both he and Kuhlman expressed concerns about the construction of both the new public utilities building and an administration building taking place at the same time.
Kuhlman called the tour of the building “eye opening” and that a new facility would likely increase efficiency and productivity. But he said that he also wanted to know if it would be possible to make minor changes to the plan and the possible shelf life for the plan, should it need to be delayed.
City Administrator Bridgette Kabat said that the city engineer indicated it should be good for about 10 years and that changes would be possible.
Both Smith and Kuhlman said that they recognized that the current facility had inadequacies, but indicated that their approval of future phases was not guaranteed.
That first phase would include a budget. At a previous council meeting, Kabat suggested that it might be around $14 million, based on comparisons to the similar project taking place in Bowling Green.
The Collaborative provided City Engineer Brian Thomas with a letter on Sept. 6 outlining many of the currently known details and a possible timeline.
After approval, the process would take approximately 14 months before Phase 2 would start, which would include the construction.
Parts of the current building, which includes the police department, would be included in the new building, or complex. The current police department has unused ground floor space, which was designed as a holding facility and a roughed-in second floor, which could be built out.
The letter points out that the current building is too small, but the city owns several adjacent parcels of land that could be utilized. It is also “laden with accessibility and security problems and its layout is less-than-ideal.”
The city also wants to bring the engineer’s office and IT staff into the new administration building. Parking is also inadequate.