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May 23, 2013

Committee looking for new Camanche City Hall location

6 properties are discussed

CAMANCHE — A committee has agreed to look at alternative locations for Camanche City Hall.

The Camanche City Hall Committee discussed options Wednesday night. After hearing from Architect Bruce Harding from Shive Hattery Architecture and Engineering, the group concluded that renovating the current location is not the best choice.

”You walk in this place, its rather obvious,” Councilman Trevor Willis said.

Harding presented a report on what would have to be done to make the building meet the city’s needs. During a meeting two weeks ago, the committee agreed any city hall should be functional, aesthetic, suitably located, cost effective and should meet objectives for the future.

The current building is 5,544 square feet, including the garage bays. Without that area, the city hall space equals 1,848 square feet. Harding said the total building should be 4,500 to 5,000 square feet. This would accommodate a vestibule, a lobby, men’s and women’s bathrooms, a vault, offices, a conference room, a general office area, a possible kitchenette/break room, a work room, a mechanical room, circulation and storage.

Harding said that a council chamber that seats 50 people requires 1,800 to 2,000 square feet. The current chamber is approximately 540 square feet and can legally seat 35.  However, Roth felt 35 people would have to really pack into the existing chamber. He added there have been some meetings where the space is just not large enough.

”I just did not see any sense in salvaging the basic shell of this building,” Harding said. “You’re throwing money out the window.”

He felt the only thing to salvage would be the slab and the footings. Harding pointed out that the walls are not insulated and the block walls needing tuckpointing. The roof also pitches to one side. He recommended demolition of the building and constructing a new one if the city wants to stay with this property.

Taking into account the asbestos tile in the building, Harding estimated the demolition cost at $50,000. If they left the original footings and foundation, he put the construction cost at $135 per square foot. He thought it would be $150 a square foot for construction of a completely new building. At $135 a square foot for 5,000 square feet, construction would cost $675,000. After other fees, contingency and site costs, Harding estimated the cost at $1.1 million to $1.2 million.

Willis said this seemed very high in cost. Harding said public buildings such as this generally use higher standards in equipment and materials. Committee Member Bob Edens felt the construction could be a little less with local labor. However, he felt that amount was mostly accurate. City Engineer Dan Solchenberger added that Harding is projecting higher figures for a worst-case scenario. He said they would hate to be overly optimistic, move forward and then end up with a project costing almost twice what they prepared for.

The group agreed that is too much to spend at this location. If the city decides to move city hall to a different location, councilmen hope to sell the current building. Fire Chief Dave Schutte pointed out another storage facility would have to be built to house fire trucks and equipment currently in the city hall’s garage bays. Joe Carstensen, from the committee, felt the city could get $70,000 to $75,000 for the city hall building.

City Administrator Tom Roth would also like the city to consider getting rid of Gardner Hall. He said the building is old and in disrepair. He said if they left it, it would become the same headache the city is having with city hall.

The committee discussed six properties that could be used for a new city hall. None of the properties were identified by name of location during the meeting. Roth felt that some were more suitable than others. However, the list did not have any asking prices for the locations and potential costs for construction or renovations. The committee agreed it cannot make any decision without that information. Roth will write a letter to the owners of these properties and give them a month to get this information to the city.

The committee still needs to consider potential funding sources. Committee Member Brian McKenrick urged the group to seriously consider the other upcoming city and county projects that Camanche taxpayers will be paying for. Roth also suggested the city look again into creating a tornado safe room as part of a city hall. Solchenberger warned that they did not find it to be affordable last time they looked into it, even with sizable hazard mitigation grants.

The committee will meet again once Roth has the information on each property.

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