Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2014

The future of the city

Council studies four options for more space
By David Hotle | Feb 19, 2014
Washington City Council members Kathryn Salazar, left, Bob Shellmyer, city clerk Illa Earnest, and Mayor Sandra Johnson discuss options for additional space during a city council meeting Tuesday evening.

Washington City Hall may be moving closer to the square depending on whether the Washington City Council decides to take one of four possible plans outlined Tuesday by architects from Klingner and Associates.
The firm had been hired about a year ago to do a study on the city hall, police department and fire department and determine options for the city. Architect Cindy Larson said that there is a problem with the existing city hall not having enough space for the three departments. The plans presented include moving city hall to the former library, expanding the existing municipal building, possible new construction, and the addition of a parking lot.
“The focus of the study is more big picture and not so much specific designs,” Larson said.
To do the study, the firm compiled information from cities of comparable size where the city hall had moved. The information was used to conduct a feasibility study with a focus on cost estimate. The council will further discuss the options during a special work session on April 22.
The next phase, after the plan is chosen, is to do a schematic design of the building.  
The first option was for city hall to be housed in the former library with a parking lot in the area across the street. The fire department and police department will be housed in the current municipal building. Option 2 has city hall and the police department in the municipal building and a new fire department south of the building. Option 3 has the police department and city hall in the former library and the fire department in the municipal building. Option 5 is a new city hall across the alley from the municipal building. The police and fire departments would remain in the municipal building with an addition to the building. Larson said there was an option 4 that used a city lot on North Marion to construct a building, but it had been found not to be feasible.
Larson said that the probable cost of the first would be $3,760,755. The estimated cost of option 2 is $3,750,000. The estimate for option 3 is $3,683,046. The cost estimate for option 5 is $3,781,393.
The cost estimates are expected to be within 15 percent. There are also unknowns — for example, the purchase of new lots. Options 1 and 3 require one additional lot. Option 2 would require four additional lots. Option 5 requires three additional lots.
“There are a lot of unknowns when you are this far in advance of the project,” Larson said. “You don’t know what the bidding environment is going to be. You don’t know if there is going to be a material shortage.”
During discussion, representatives from the Washington Police Department, Washington Fire Department and the Washington County Public Health Department, which uses space in the former library, declined to make a recommendation until after studying the options more closely.  
The council also wanted more time to study the options. While city administrator Brent Hinson requested a work session in March regarding the proposals, the council agreed to the April 22 meeting. Hinson said that he wanted to see the new layout of the city serve the city’s needs for decades to come.
The full 100-page report of all the options is available on the City of Washington Web site.
In other business, the council:
• heard a presentation on the annual running of KidzFest. It will run 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on May 9 on the Washington Square;
• appointed council members Bob Shepherd, Bob Shellmyer and citizen Deran DeLong to the Washington Ordinance hearing panel;
• approved a resolution adopting city job descriptions with the amendment that the jobs of mayor and city administrator be reviewed;
• approved a gender balance policy for appointed boards and commissions;
• approved a resolution to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program;
• approved the first reading of an ordinance on flood plan management; and
• approved the first reading of an ordinance on drug paraphernalia.

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