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Twp. moves forward with proposed $1.26M addition to hall

December 18, 2013 - Oxford Township officials are moving forward with plans to add a meeting room, police substation and more parking to the township hall located at 300 Dunlap Rd.

The estimated cost of this proposed 8,375-square-foot expansion is $1.26 million.

Last week, the township board voted 7-0 to solicit bids for architectural and engineering services for the creation of design and construction plans for the proposed project.

To prepare for financing the proposed expansion, officials also voted 7-0 to transfer $985,000 from the township's general fund reserves, which total approximately $2.36 million, to the building and site fund, which had approximately $279,603 in it prior to this action.

Built in 2006, the existing township hall consists of two levels containing a total of 14,000 square feet.

Conceptual plans, created by the Lake Orion-based Stephen Auger & Associates Architects, call for construction of a two-level 4,600-square-foot addition to the northern side of the hall.

The upper level would consist of a 2,300-square-foot public meeting room to accommodate the township board, planning commission, zoning board of appeals and various committees. It would have seating for 96 audience members and a dais able to accommodate 12 people.

The estimated cost of the meeting room is $310,500.

Currently, the township conducts all of its public meetings downtown on the second floor of the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.), commonly known as the Vets Hall.

Right now, the Vets Hall is considered a drain on the township's coffers. Between $50,000 and $75,000 is spent annually on cleaning, utilities and maintenance/repairs, yet the facility only brings in a couple thousand dollars in revenue each year from those who lease it for private functions, according to Supervisor Bill Dunn.

The lower level of the proposed addition would provide 2,300 square feet of additional space. Estimated cost is $149,500.

"That would not be finished off," Dunn said. "It would be for any future use that the township desires."

Using 3,775 square feet of existing unfinished, vacant space in the township's lower level, officials plan to construct a substation to house Oakland County Sheriff's Department personnel.

It would consist of a reception area, two command offices, a detective room, locker rooms for male and female officers, two interview rooms, a break room, radio room, restrooms, general and secure storage areas and an area for writing reports. Estimated cost for the substation is $377,500.

"Is it a little big for what we have now (in terms of staffing)? Yes," Dunn said.

But the supervisor explained there needs to be room for future personnel growth. He doesn't want to get into the same situation as the Orion Township sheriff's substation, which is out of space. "What we're hoping here is that we're going to grow into it over the next five to 20 years," Dunn said.

Trustee Jack Curtis noted that he, Dunn and Clerk Curtis Wright visited three substations and "all of them are undersized right now because of the population growth."

Oxford's no exception in terms of growth. Between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Censuses, the township's population (including the village) grew from 16,007 to 20,526.

"We are building. We are developing," Curtis said.

Curtis said the conceptual substation plan is "not overexaggerated" in terms of additional space. "We do have some room for expansion (in) the future, so we're not building ourselves into a corner," he said.

Right now, the sheriff's substation is located in the Express Mini-Storage facility (2121 N. Lapeer Rd.). The township leases approximately 2,000 square feet of space for $15,600 per year plus an additional $200 to $300 per month for utilities. It currently houses 15 officers and one administrative assistant.

All this additional space would require extra parking, so the conceptual plan shows expanded lots on the west and east sides of the building. Estimated cost is $150,000.

The aforementioned figures constitute all the estimated hard costs, which total $987,500. When the $270,500 in estimated soft costs are added in, the project increases to $1.26 million. "These are just estimates to give (the board) an idea of what these additions might cost," Dunn said.

Based on his experiences in the business world, Curtis felt the estimates were on the high side. "These numbers are real heavy," he said.

He cited the estimated $98,750 in contingency costs as an example.

"We need to follow this closely," Curtis said. "I can't see $100,000 in contingencies. I'd have never got a plan to fly (in the private sector). There (are) a lot of guesstimates in here. I believe it can come in a lot closer than that."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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