Source: Sherman Publications

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City looks to move out of 3 E. Church

March 28, 2012

The city wants out of its lease agreement at 3 E. Church and build a new garage to store Department of Public Works equipment by early fall, according to former Councilman Jim Brueck.

Prior to resigning his seat on council, Brueck headed a Capital Reductions Committee, looking for ways the city could save money. One was rent at 3 E. Church.

"We started out paying $2,000 a month and then two or three years ago Dennis (Ritter, city manager) negotiated $1,500 a month," he said. "On top of that we have to pay all the utilities and any other maintenance to the facility, so we at one time estimated a ball park of $25,000 a year to continue to maintain."

Council formed a Physical Plant Committee with Brueck as chairman along with Councilwoman Peg Roth and Councilman Tom Hunter. Even though not on the council anymore, Brueck wanted to stay on the committee.

"I'd like to see it through for the benefits of the city residents, it's the right thing to do," he said. "Not that it would, but I'd hate to see it get dropped and not have the priority I'm trying to bring to it, keep on it so it keeps moving forward."

Originally the city stored all equipment in the garage at City Hall, but there was an insurance concern as to how people would get out in case of a fire due to the way things were parked. They also needed space when they got their own police department and the DPW purchased some additional equipment, so at the time 3 E. Church made sense, according to Brueck.

City Hall garage currently houses the city's big front-end loader and big dump truck, while 3 E. Church has a smaller dump truck and lift along with the big street sweeper, plows attachments, truck attachments, barricades and various hand tools.

"Now that the police are no longer an issue we have more room than we really need at 3 E. Church," Brueck said. "The idea was how could we get out of that? After some ongoing discussions the thought was, let's take a look at adding some kind of (at City Hall) either directly onto the building or stand alone would make the most sense."

Brueck said they've come up with an estimate package between $100,000 to $125,000, which would include landscaping, architect, building and any other contingencies. He said it's not a significant expenditure when they're looking at a four to five year payback.

The council approved architectural firm JFR at its March 12 meeting for a total cost of $7,224. The next step will be meeting with JFR to determine square footage, he said. They estimate anywhere between 936 to 1,200 square-feet is needed, which would also include a mezzanine to hold all the city offices records, currently stored in the basement of 3 E. Church.

The key is looking at immediate needs, said Brueck, who noted past proposals for getting out of 3 E. Church were too elaborate, such as building a new city hall with bigger office space and meeting rooms.

"We've gotten by for how long now with the facilities we currently have, the city is not getting bigger, so it's hard to think we need that space on an ongoing basis," he said. "When we have had meetings of more interest we've used other resources like the Independence Township Fire Department meeting room to accommodate a larger crowd."

Brueck said he's seen good progressive steps going through each phase of the process and he hopes it will continue as they go along.

"It's just getting all the data and all the facts and saying this is what's involved," he said. "I think in the end it prevails when you can present a factual case. It seems to speak for itself."