Archive for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baldwin City Council members suggest City Hall top floor remodel

Baldwin City Hall

Baldwin City Hall

March 14, 2012

After touring the unused upstairs at City Hall, two Baldwin City Council members are suggesting it may be time to renovate the space.

Councilwoman Bonnie Plumberg told her fellow council members last month she and Councilman Shane Starkey toured the upper floor of City Hall. They found it a nice space and suggested it might be time to remodel the floor for a city council chamber and other uses.

City Administrator Chris Lowe said during a review of city capital projects, he found an informal list, which scheduled the City Hall upper floor renovation for 2011. His understanding and that of council members was that the project — which would have provided additional staff office space, storage and a council meeting room that would double as municipal court — wasn’t completed because of the expense of installing an elevator. A requirement to make the upper floor compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the elevator accounted for much of the $400,000 estimated cost of the remodel, council members said.

City public works director Bill Winegar said installing bathrooms would be another costly feature of the renovation.

The city has spent about $21,000 on the upper floor, gutting of the old interior, replacing windows and the hanging most of the sheetrock needed in a renovation.

Plumberg noted the renovation of the upper floor would put an end to the city’s agreement with American Legion Post 228, which has the city leasing the post hall to the organization for $1 a year and then paying $1,200 annually to compensate the Legion for heat and power used during council meetings and municipal court dates.

There was also general agreement the America Legion space was inadequate for council meetings or municipal court. In addition to being a cold, dimly lit space with poor acoustics, it lacked technology features that forces the council to sometimes schedule meetings in the library so that computer-aided briefings could be presented to the council, Lowe said.

“I don’t think there was anyone denying it wasn’t a worthwhile project,” the city administrator said of the upper floor renovation.

Lowe advised the council to consider the project with other proposed capital improvements at a retreat Mayor Ken Wagner has recommended but not yet scheduled.

“That is one (project) definitely worthy of consideration,” he said.

Comments

1776attorney 2 years, 9 months ago

With all due respect, I find this suggestion to teeter on insulting to the general population and taxpayers of Baldwin City. The suggestion that in tough economic times when our neighbors and their families are still struggling to pay high property taxes, feed their children and absorb a job loss or other expenses is really a slap in the face to good governance. And then to have the new city administer jump on board the train seems to be slightly devoid of good advice. It's not worthly of consideration at all.

There are 10 better projects new city council members could (and should) be devoting their time towards, including the school district / tornado shelter debacle.

I would like some answers from the city regarding the 6th and High Street building (see the "Speak Out" section).

There are innumerable projects in this city that should take precedence over a $400,000 city hall renovation. Sure it would be nice to provide our part-time council members fine accommodations and comforts during their 3 hours of council meeting once a month. And agreeably, the city staff might need increased workspace. But the timing of this suggestion just lacks any common sense or respect for the taxpayers.

I might offer the suggestion that renovating the 2nd floor of city hall (which was formally a small bank 80 years ago) won’t be enough space for city workers in 5 to 10 years anyway. A better master plan is needed.

I'll be happy to point out some higher priority suggestions, in my opinion.

The fact that the city is contributing more than $1 million to sidewalks north of Highway 56 and totally neglecting sidewalks, curbing and street improvements in the city proper is really insulting. Most of these improvements should have been required of the developers. The 20 square block area around downtown looks terrible in some areas. The street curbs around Baker University are an eye-sore.

Now we hear that the city wants to install walking trails at taxpayer expense in this same neighborhood (north of Highway 56), while possibly reversing their plan to enlarge and expand the city library after monies and architectural services have already been set aside for this project.

How about the very poor planning for sidewalks to and from the new grade school?

There is an historical preservation need to set up some kind of program to renovate our brick streets around downtown.

The taxpayers have enough to undertake given the school district issues and sky-high property taxes (the highest in Douglas Couty).

We, as taxpayers, deserve better governance and wiser decisions from both our city and school district representatives.

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1776attorney 2 years, 9 months ago

Correction- the city's costs for the north 6th Street project is $1.9 million, plus $400,000 for sidewalks. $2.3 million.

Who thought this project up? $400,000 for sidewalks that maybe 10 people a day will utilize? These should have been paid for by the developers of these properties years ago. As is typical in these situations, developers almost always dump these projects / costs onto all taxpayers long after they've disappeared.

This $2.3 million would have provided new curbing, sidewalks (that meet ADA legal requirements) and street improvements for almost 10-15 square blocks around Baldwin City proper.

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 9 months ago

$400k??(You know it will cost more then that)

I'm not sure how the council members think we should spend this kind of money in a depression with falling home prices and tax revenues. Just because they are sometimes bothered with using the library or paying the Legion Hall $1200 a year??

Really....you would think we could just buy the old School Building and use that for that kind of money.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 9 months ago

I hear the old stack-o-vator in KU Watkins Library is not in service any more. Maybe we can get it for a song. Nothing like pulling that mesh gate closed with a crash.

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NanCrisp 2 years, 9 months ago

The library being a City building, it seems natural that the meetings would regularly occur there. The library could be greatly enhanced for just a fraction of the expense quoted for the second floor City Hall renovation/ADA upgrade.

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puck 2 years, 9 months ago

I agree. I find it completely disgusting that Bonnie would even suggest this. Is she that far out of touch with today's economy to not recognize this as a slap in the face to the community?

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hyperinflate 2 years, 9 months ago

puck,

It takes lots of courage to be forward-thinking in this town, as witnessed by your rather caustic posting. Instead, we'll likely undoubtedly wait until it's an utter crisis and spend three to four times as much, instead of planning ahead.

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 9 months ago

hyper, who is being forward thinking here??

Certainly not the City Council with the suggestion of spending my money on something that is not a expenditure at this time.

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puck 2 years, 9 months ago

What I said was pretty much verbatim what everyone else posted. So go ahead and reply to all the previous posters, too.

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