Conceptual plan for new public works complex shared with Baldwin City Council
The Baldwin City Council was presented Monday with a conceptual plan for a new public works complex at a time when residents are being surveyed about what new building projects they would support.
The conceptual plan was shared Monday to give the council members an idea of what the city could get for $2 million should they decide to go ahead with the project. The $2.5 million was the estimated price tag of a new public works headquarters established earlier this when the council considered an update of the city’s five-year capital improvement plan.
Architect Jay Zimmerschied, who designed last year’s addition to the Baldwin City Public Library and has provided options for a possible new police station and City Hall renovations, developed the conceptual plan after conversations with city staffers. The new complex was meant to serve the city’s needs for 15 to 20 years and to be easily expanded, he said.
The plan would relocate the public works headquarters and storage yard from the 600 block of High Street to the city yard on Orange Street. That would open the High Street properties to uses more compatible for the historic downtown, Zimmerschied said.
The plan would build an 18,278-square-foot complex at the Orange Street yard. The building would be located on the north end of the property and east of the driveway to the electrical and sewer plants.
As envisioned in the plans, the new complex would provide 4,390 square feet of office space, a 52 percent increase from the 2,880 square feet now available downtown. The complex would also have three vehicle parking bays, two bays for maintenance and five for general storage. That part of the building would total 13,888 square feet, doubling the space available at the downtown complex.
The plan would place the new offices on the complex’s northern exposure with the storage and vehicle bays laid out in an L-shaped pattern to the south. The bays’ doors would open to the south and west. That arrangement would provide visual screening and sound buffering to residential neighbors, Zimmerschied said
When asked by Councilwoman Christi Darnell how the complex would make the public works department more efficient, Baldwin City public works director Bill Winegar said cramped storage was currently the department’s greatest inefficiency, requiring inventory to be stored in multiple places. That made inventory hard to track and often required multiple trips when gathering materials for jobs, he said.
Another advantage for residents would be the opportunity for “one-stop shopping,” Winegar said. The department currently can’t take payment for such things as cemetery plots or permit fees, which must be paid at City Hall, he said.
The new public works building was slotted for 2015 construction when the council first approved a five-year capital improvement plan last year. It was included again the 2016 CIP when the council updated the five-year plan in April.
At that time, city financial adviser Tom Kaleko said debt on the public works complex would be mostly paid off through utilities rates. It was assumed electrical department revenue would provide 48 percent of the debt-retirement revenue, wastewater and water departments would provide 22 percent each and the city general fund the remaining 8 percent, Kaleko said.
The council has not, however, committed any funding for its final design, engineering or construction for a new public works complex.
Other projects included on the 2016 CIP, but also not yet funded, include the $1.1 million theater at the Lumberyard Arts Center and $500,000 in City Hall renovations. Another big project, the $1.8 million police station, is slated for 2017.
The city is now sounding out public opinion on those projects and how they should be paid for through a telephone survey, which its financial adviser Springsted Financial is conducting. The survey asks residents the degree of their support for the public works complex, new police station, City Hall renovations, Lumberyard theater and community recreation center, which was not included on the CIP list. Residents also are asked about support for additional sales or property taxes needed to pay for the projects.
The survey was about half done as of Monday, City Administrator Chris Lowe said. He did not know when its results would be available for the council.