ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee
May 10, 2017
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way 1:30 p.m.
Committee Members: Boldt, Dichiro, Finklea, Kenefick, Kramer, Miller, Nickels, Pearce, Richards, Shaw, Thalden
Staff: Fleury, Kathol, Morrison, Seltzer
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS: Dichiro called the meeting to order and asked Committee Members Nickels and Boldt to introduce themselves.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Shaw said that on page 5 of the Minutes from the April 26 meeting, Rick Vezie’s last name was misspelled. Nickels and Thalden last names will also be corrected for spelling.
MOTION by Nickels, second by Boldt to approve as revised the Minutes of the April 26, 2017 ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee meeting. Carried unanimously.
STAFF PRESENTATION: Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison presented a PowerPoint giving an overview of the conditions at City Hall and the Community Development Building. Morrison reported that the ComDev building is a major remodel of the old Hillah Temple building. The remodel was approved in 1999 and ComDev opened for use in September 2002. ComDev currently has 9630 square feet with very functional space but little room left for expansion. It also houses the only shared meeting rooms in all of the City facilities.
Morrison showed the layout of the ComDev 31 workstations in 2002 compared to the 34 workstations and layout in 2017. He showed pictures of the attic space which houses the HVAC system and the Planning and Building departments, as well as numerous files that are irreplaceable. Digitized materials are stored on a hard drive. Morrison stated that the original materials needed to be retained and stored in a climate-controlled environment, but agreed on questioning that such storage could be off-site. ComDev is not designed to be a two story building. That would require some retro-fitting and bracing and it would be fairly invasive.
Morrison then showed City Hall, which was originally built in 1889. It underwent a major remodel in 1913 and has had several upgrades since then. The current City Hall building has 7745 square feet.
The City Hall building has been identified since the l960’s as inadequate, and is the most expensive building to take care of and has the most maintenance problems. Morrison advised that the electrical system is inadequate for modern equipment. The HVAC system is inefficient and outdated, and is due for a major overhaul. The plumbing drains poorly, requires high flow toilets, there is a lack of restrooms for the number of employees and the water heater is in the attic. The internet/Network system is in a very difficult space to improve. Morrison added that the structure issues include single pane windows, lack of insulation and seismic issues.
Recent City Hall building issues include a major first floor restroom leak that caused floor failure and plumbing backup, closing the building at midday. Roof drain issues caused a backup inside the building. Ongoing issues include 3 restrooms (5 toilets) for 30 employees, which is inadequate. Security and access are difficult with the layout of the building. Maintaining aging systems is getting increasingly difficult. Morrison then showed pictures of the parapet walls which were recommended to be tied off and he added that the parapet walls could fall if there was an earthquake. He showed bricks in 1913 and 2017 and pictures of similar Klamath Falls buildings following the 1993 earthquake. He showed photos of the old City Hall circa 1889-1913 and 1913 to present, with the building housing the Fire Station, Police Station and City Hall. The current City Hall elevator is shared with OSF and they maintain it. Kenefick asked if we could get square footage of the current parcel that City Hall sits on. Kathol said that she had put a drawing of the City Hall plot on the City’s Committee website link. Kenefick asked what is under the building and Morrison said we are not sure in all places. Morrison said we had considered redoing the front door but it was cost prohibitive and there were ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues.
Following Morrison’s presentation, the Committee asked questions. Seltzer pointed out that the Committee would see two connected buildings during the tour of City Hall and Morrison explained how the buildings had been combined over the years. Dichiro asked if going to wireless Bluetooth has helped and Morrison said that the network is all hard-wired. Kenefick said several options the Committee was considering would require employees to be relocated. Kenefick said we should consider the Plexis property in the old Oak Street Tank and Steel building. Also, a modular unit could work well behind the Court building. Kathol said that she will look into the Plexis site. Morrison said that if we are doing a seismic retrofit, we should concurrently address all of the other identified building issues. According to Morrison, it would be cheaper to tear down the current City Hall and rebuild than to retrofit the current building.
Morrison said that the footprint of the City Hall building can only expand in one direction near the elevator, and it could go higher. The elevator was put in as a cost share with City Hall and OSF. Kramer said the City owns half of the elevator. Seltzer added that we want to continue to accommodate OSF. The Committee then toured the ComDev and the City Hall buildings.
The Committee reconvened following the building tours. Seltzer said that she will post online the Morrison presentation and photos. Kenefick asked if we could get a cost projection if we just did what is necessary to the building to make it seismically sound. Shaw asked if we gut the building, could we use the space more efficiently and maintain the outside walls and gut the inside, although she was not sure if there were advantages to this strategy. Kramer said if the building was owned by private money, the only financially viable option would be to retain the exterior walls and redevelop and rebuild from the inside out, including seismic and all new systems, and that option needed to be fully vetted. Kramer said that about 20% of the existing footprint currently appeared to be wasted or was being used inefficiently. He added that if the goal is to add 8 employees and there is 20% wasted space in the current plan, his belief was that we could accommodate needed growth within the existing building footprint through improved design. He said the advantage is cost and character. Kathol said the cost to completely tear down the building and rebuild it to the appropriate size is about one million dollars less than to retrofit from the ground up. Boldt added that a retrofit is always more expensive. Kramer said it depends on the contractor but he has problems with the projected square foot cost projection. Kramer agreed that we needed to deal with the systems. Renovating the building should be looking at the impact 100 years in the future. Dichiro said she needs to know more about the original deed land transfer and Pearce said he would be happy to work with staff on looking at where the parcel is and the uncertainties of what the language means. Kathol has hired a DC in Medford to trace the original descendants of John Helman and if we are not able to find them we will file an Action to Quiet Title. Pearce said that the reversionary interest is transferrable and the language is not classical in the Deed, which was posted on the Committee’s City website link. Seltzer asked Kathol to address which option builds ComDev up and Kathol confirmed it was the option to expand ComDev and consolidate.
Morrison said that in an earthquake, people have to get out of a building safely. Do we want the building to be useable the next day? Seltzer noted that Karns has said during the recovery phase of an emergency, city facilities and staff are essential to assisting businesses and citizens rebuild their lives and interacting with FEMA and the SBA. Non-emergency personnel have to be able to get back to work as quickly as possible following an emergency. The City is not required to build city hall to critical infrastructure standards but it needs to be useable as quickly as possible following an earthquake. Fire station one and two, and the police station are built or have been retrofitted to meet the critical infrastructure standards.
Nickels said one problem he has not heard addressed is parking. That is the one thing that would lead him to support a different site. Seltzer said the parking issue is accommodated in some of the different scenarios. Shaw said it was important to keep civic functions downtown. As far as parking, she thought that we had added sufficient parking and we do not value enough the importance of encouraging people to walk a few blocks. Sometimes that inconvenience bolsters the economy in a town. She is considering the functionality of the building and it is important that it is an anchor. However, if we find out the Deed restricts use, the whole conversation of moving City Hall is moot. Searching for errors in the Deed could be extensive. Dichiro said we need some answers on the restrictions in the Deed. We need to consider what happens to the City Hall building if we abandon it and what happens to the core of our downtown. If we could vacate the building, would the City sell or keep the building if it is seismically unsound.
Kenefick said the Minutes should reflect Shaw’s point that the distance between the library and City Hall is the same as the Rogue Valley Mall. Shaw pointed out that people should be encouraged to walk from parking places to the City Hall as they do at the Mall. Kenefick suggested that the committee keep these points in mind because he was considering the potential public relations issue. Dichiro said that the Minutes need to reflect what is said and that there is a diversity of opinion within the Committee and whatever the Committee puts forward we have to be prepared to address public opinion. Shaw said talking about going up one level on the ComDev building was met with strong disapproval by neighbors in the past.
Seltzer added that whatever the Committee recommends, it has to include one million dollars for phase two of the police station. Shaw added that no law enforcement bond has passed in the City of Ashland in 34 years. Dichiro notes that it would be one public facility bond which would include the police station phase two.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS: Future agenda items will include City Hall Deed review by Pearce, Kathol and Fleury. The next meeting is Wednesday, May 24 in the Otte-Peterson Room at the Grove, 1175 East Main Street. The Committee will tour the Civic Center and the Police Station and Morrison will give a brief presentation about the Civic Center and the Police Station.
Dichiro adjourned the meeting at 3:35pm.
Shelly D. Hensarling