Dead on arrival

Erie County's offer to city of Sandusky for County Office Building gets no consideration, no reply.
Andy Ouriel
May 31, 2013

Sandusky declined an offer from Erie County commissioners to discuss the potential for moving City Hall into the Erie County Office Building at Columbus Avenue and Washington Row.

It’s unclear who declined the offer, or why.

The county made the offer in a Feb. 25 letter to city manager Nicole Ard.

Ard never responded to it.

She declined to answer questions earlier this week regarding the offer. She did reply to an email inquiry from the Register, but her response, which was copied to all seven city commissioners, seemed nonsensical.

“The ICMA Code of Ethics outlines how managers correspond with other governing bodies’ elected officials,” Ard replied. “That is probably part of the reason why communities follow the protocol of elected officials corresponding with their elected peers and managers to other managers, some elected bodies may ask a manager to correspond with their peers on their behalf but not often.”

City commissioners voted Tuesday to seek proposals for the Sandusky Bay Pavilion property. Get Friday's Register to learn what happens next. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy the Register daily at a newsstand near you.

City commissioners refuse to address questions about the offer, and it’s never been on commission’s agenda. 

“We have not met and discussed that,” ex officio mayor John Hamilton said.

One city commissioner said he isn’t interested in the county’s offer.

“No one thought it was important enough to bring it up,” city commissioner Wes Poole said. “I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t think it was something that I wanted to do.”

Monaghan seemed somewhat irritated the city didn’t even respond.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is off the table,” he said. “We’ve got plans to use (the building) and I haven’t heard one word from anyone in the city.”

Shenigo, meanwhile, provided some optimism.

“I’m still open to the idea,” Shenigo said. “I just want to hear back from them.”

For years, city officials have considered moving from City Hall, citing its poor condition and the cost of upkeep. Estimates for building a new structure have ranged from $3 million to $10 million.

In addition to a low-cost lease at the administration building, Monaghan and Shenigo also suggested city officials could move the police department and municipal court into Perkins Township.

City Hall shortcomings

Had city commissioners accepted the offer, it would’ve solved a huge problem plaguing past and present Sandusky officials. For about 25 years, city commissioners debated leaving City Hall, the 57-year-old headquarters at 222 Meigs St.

Sandusky’s chief building official, George Poulos, hesitated in late 2012 to approve piecemeal upgrades in some areas, including the municipal court facility, since he considers City Hall structurally weak.

The office building, formerly the Lasalle’s department store on Columbus Avenue and Washington Row, could house most City Hall employees working for various departments, such as engineering, finance and administration. Other city operations could be located at the city service center on Cement Street, on Sandusky’s west side.

Sandusky Municipal Court Judge Erich O’Brien said he intends to break ground on new construction at 222 Meigs St. for a new courthouse if commissioners don’t come up with other options.

Hamilton suggested City Hall could move into the former Sandusky Cabinets property, a condemned and blighted facility on East Washington Street.

“Our city building does have issues, which need to be dealt with in a well-thought out, long-term strategic plan,” Hamilton said. “This is the wrong time to be selling off any city-owned property for money to build a new City Hall, maybe in five years.”

Comments

J Cooper

Anyone familiar with this building and its lack of available space knew this would never happen but it was a good sound bite for the county officials making the offer and another opportunity to make the city look bad. Wasn't this the same offer that included the county officials proposing to move the city police outside the city?

LuvsPlant

Funny how the president of Erie County, Pat Shenigo offers this proposal to the city without consulting the other elected officials!

WhyRweHere

What is it about this city that they have such horrible luck with hiring officials, Nicole Ard isn't qualified to run a Burger King let alone a city. All they do during commission meetings is talk talk talk, NEVER do they ever get anything accomplished. Surfs Up has been sitting there w no real plan, they have been TALKING about leaving that crappy building thats an embarrassment for years with zero progress. That CM and that commission are WORTHLESS!!!! All Ard does is waste money on failed discipline and other needless spending, but then again it's not her money and let's be honest for OBVIOUS reasons she ain't goin no where!! Regardless how bad she is

Cowboy

It's the same song and dance that we get every dang time!

Home Boy

Politics at it's best (worse in this case). Wouldn't there be a cost savings for the city if they moved to the County Building?? Put the egos aside, folks and have the City officials think as though it was their money they're spending to maintain the building on Meigs St. There's an old saying..."it's amazing how far one can go when you don't care who gets the credit".

WhyRweHere

Well said!!!

Darkhorse

Moving to the county is a bad idea so at least the subject has been finally put to rest or has it? Is the county trying to throw everyone off track? All of a sudden they have a need for the space and they are rescinding their offer of just a few weeks ago? The whole thing is not making a whole lot of sense. Elected officials from the city and county need to get their act together. Sandusky is suing the county over a water contract and we are expected to make nice with the county when it comes to making deals with a major city hall move. If the Sandusky and the County can't work together now, it will be a disaster when it comes to moving in with the county. I can see all kinds of legal troubles down the road of which Sandusky does not need. Is Shennigo a one man team at the county?

WhyRweHere

You do understand they're not talking about moving TO the county?? The building on the corner of Columbus Ave and Washington Row belongs to the county but it is in the city....do you ever actually read the articles. Or just skim through them??

T. A. Schwanger

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How does one compel the City Manager or the majority City Commission to spend money on even the smallest repairs, upgrades or improvements at properties owned by the citizens.

Simple things like seal coating and striping the deteriorating parking lot at City Hall, as a proactive preventative approach, can't or won't get done until a complete $60,000 (City figures) repave project is required.

For 20 years, City Hall has needed ALLEGED $1,000,000 in repairs (now alleged $2,000,000). The local energy company returned $300,000 plus to the City in recent history. Instead of using the money for energy efficiency upgrades, the money was spent elsewhere.

Smith's idea of moving City Hall downtown, not based on need, but rather on "why should city workers need a million dollar water front view from their offices while the rest of the community struggles" is preposterous. He'd be hard pressed to convince common sense Sanduskians relocating City Hall will solve the "community's struggles".