Sandusky City Hall: Fix old or build new?

Some Sandusky officials want to build an entirely new City Hall, rather than spend taxpayer dollars on revamping the existing Meigs Street hub.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 10, 2012

Talks about a new government complex recently surfaced when officials discussed expanding the municipal court facility, rooted inside City Hall.

City commissioners asked Sandusky's chief building official, George Poulos, how he'd proceed with a desperately needed courtroom renovation, estimated at $2 million.

Poulos hesitated to approve piecemeal upgrades in some areas throughout City Hall, since he considers the structure architecturally weak.

For instance: Many of the facility's single-pane windows extract heat from the interior, which has resulted in taxpayers fronting $191,000 for gas and electric bills during the past three years.

Poulos said he'd prefer to build an entirely new complex, instead of spending new money on an antiquated building.

Many commissioners seem eager to begin researching the possibility of a new City Hall, taking into account the project's cost and building efficiencies.

"Let's get the ball rolling," commissioner Keith Grohe said.

There are, however, some hurdles.

Perkins Township trustees stashed away funds throughout several years to cover all related costs for their project.

Sandusky doesn't have any extra money for such a project.

In August, when commissioners relaunched talks about possibly relocating City Hall, city finance director Hank Solowiej urged the seven commissioner to forgo spending millions of dollars the city can't afford.

"We don't have that in our bank," Solowiej said, referring to the city breaking even in its $15.5 million budget this year. Investing in a new City Hall "would put a tremendous amount of strain on the type of capital projects you would want to do," Solowiej said.

Read more pros and cons of each option in today's Register or e-paper.

Comments

luvblues2

Slap Cedar Point's face with their improvement money and build new. Great idea.

richrs

Tear down the Keller and build a new city hall and Police station there.

Minnow

GOOD ONE!!!!! Better yet just move them in there now, let them feel unsafe like the rest of the city. Maybe just maybe then it will get bulldozed and we can reopen our street so that no one gets hurt!

donutshopguy

Commissioner Keith Grohe sure has no problem spending someone else's money. Why are all politicians cut from the same cloth. Stop spending money you don't have !

Federal,state and county officials are in debt with no plan of getting out. Why must the city follow suit?

How about a little common sense. There should be no remodeling or rebuilding unless the money has been set aside for either plan.

The Bizness

Team up with The YMCA or the Ohio Sports Hall of Fame to build a new joint City Hall/Rec Center/Indoor fields/police station. Private investments can be used along side government moneys.

Browndog271

Ok, Judge Obrien has close to 2mm set aside, the property could be worth 2mm, the City could borrow a mil or 2 to cover the rest, interest rates are the lowest we will most likely ever see, lock in low rates, If the city is short there is various community foundations that could help. Lets at least look into it in more detail.

reader

Examine both options and lay out all the cost estimates and financing options for everyone to consider. Is there any donor support for preserving the present site as a park ?

G George I du kno

If O'brien put $1m toward the new building and the city financed another $1m the payment for the city would be around $6,500 a month for a 30yr loan. I think a new building would probably cut some of the expenses and end up saving some money in the long run. Or we could change the name of the city to Cedar Fair, Ohio if they just build a new building. That way when I google my hometown I don't have to scroll through 100 Jerry Sandusky articles!

G George I du kno

We could also form a committee to research the options. Maybe get some experts from town in the financial industry, building industry, etc...Not a committee like the Police Chief committee and make sure they read the ORC before they start.

Licorice Schtick

It's a mistake to stop maintaining a building because you might build a new one. Yes, it would be nice if City Hall could be located downtown but economic circumstances make that unlikely in the forseeable future. It the meanwhile, our very durable building is being neglected. The inefficiently used space is more than ample for the number of workers but they're isolated from one another. Departments continue to generate mountains of paper instead of electronic documents.

City Hall needs some modest investments that would pay for themselves very quickly -- not just in building updates, but in systems design.

car 54

As recent as August finance director Solowiej told the city commission not to forgo money for this project, we can't afford it. Put money in the current building and concentrate on services to Sandusky.

Erie County Resident

Here is a novel idea.
The city wants a new building so ponder this.
Close the parking lot on the north side and build it there while still working in the old building during construction. Temporarily close off the street on the PD side to traffic and use the east side lot and the temporarily closed street for parking also during construction.
There would then be no need for buying any new real estate to build and then tear the old one down afterwards for the new parking lot.
Yes I know it makes sense so it won't happen this way.

BEHAPPY

All I know is I wish they would stay close....my neighborhood suddenly went whacko

T. A. Schwanger

City Hall relocation the untold story:::

Well of course the City’s Chief Building Inspector is going to say relocate City Hall when put on the spot by a City Commissioner during a public meeting. Anyone would out of concern of losing their job.

It appears the two main City Commission supporters of relocating City Hall downtown, Smith and Farrar, are either forgetting to inform, or intentionally keeping information from the rest of the City Commission.

You see, not too long ago, several major taxpayer funded improvements were made to the current city hall. ADA accessible improvements, including an elevator, push button entrance doors and wheelchair ramps, etc. Each office was remodeled to include cubicle type design. Security improvements, including office “key pad” entry and metal detectors have been added. The City Commission Chambers is actually an addition to the building. Taxpayers are still paying on air handling system debt. Police Department facilities were upgraded and improved this year. Certainly I'm forgetting other improvements.

So the question for the community, and those who control taxpayer purse strings is, do we really need to relocate City Hall ( third attempt since 1991), or is this simply a history repeated want?

One thing is certain, 20 year old recommended energy efficiency improvements at city hall and Judge O’Brien’s court expansion/improvement plans continue to rise in cost, streets continue to crumble, millions of gallons of untreated water continue to pollute Sandusky Bay and city services decline as Commissioners Farrar and Smith push to relocate city hall just to prove they can under the guise of "saving taxpayer money and promoting downtown development". Sadly, it appears they have the City Manager convinced as well.

DGMutley

Thank you for your post. Good post!

In addition, as a resident who occasionally visits City Hall I don't see any need for any improvement. The access is great, plenty of parking, good location, convenient to downtown, the offices are easily accessible. I certainly don't want to have to go downtown and fight for parking every time I want to go to City Hall in the name of bringing more business to downtown businesses.

Browndog271

Once again, the City of sandusky cannot move forward, only backward