ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee
August 16, 2017
Methodist Church, 175 North Main 1:30 p.m.
Committee Members: Boldt, Di Chiro, Finklea, Kenefick, Kramer, Miller, Nickels, Pearce, Richards, Shaw, Thalden
Staff: Fleury, Hanks, Morrison, Welch
Absent: Seltzer, Kathol
CALL TO ORDER: Di Chiro called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Minutes of the August 2 Committee Meeting were as follows:
- Page 2 - Shaw changed to read: “She advised not to talk price during a campaign but it is important in the decision process.”
- Page 2 – Boldt added: “Boldt added that when the Fire Station was being promoted, the need for a higher functioning facility was discussed and not price.”
- Page 5 – Kramer added: “Kramer said that the current City Hall does not have a parking requirement and Karns agreed.”
- Page 6 – Kramer corrected: “Kramer thought that when the committee got to the point of evaluating Lithia Way and the Pioneer Street parking lot,….”
- Page 7 – Kramer changed to read: “We have a high functioning EOC organization in the City of Ashland that does simulations regularly.”
- Page 7 - Kramer changed “10 minutes” to “20 minutes”, and added: “Karns said there is a long lag time to set up the EOC and the lag time for the current facility and the lag time for the new facility would be cut in half.”
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
MOTION by Shaw, second by Boldt to approve the Minutes of the August 2, 2017 ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee meeting as amended. Carried unanimously.
COST ANALYSIS REVIEW OF CITY HALL
Shaw felt it was important to consider paying off Fire Station #1 debt serve, as anything that will help to lower the tax payer debt is good. She thought it should be taken into consideration.
Boldt addressed the ‘Final list of tenable options for the replacement of City Hall’ memo from Kathol. Boldt met with Tom Walker of Adroit about the existing City Hall to look at the individual cost numbers and square footage and the estimate is close, considering it is based on a concept with no detail. Soft costs need to be taken into consideration and we were told everything has to be hard-wired in lieu of Wi-Fi because of security. Boldt said the cost numbers do not match up between ORW and the alternative numbers developed by the City after ORW completed their feasibility study, but he found the content is pretty accurate. Boldt then addressed the five options and cost estimates. He said that the original numbers that went into the January figures for the City Hall options could not be verified because the estimator at Vitus Construction is no longer with the company and they can find no records of how those numbers were estimated. He added that new construction at City Hall is a lot more complex and the cost would be higher because of the construction challenges due to its location. He could not determine if they are totally accurate numbers. Kramer said we needed to add that there is disparity between the ORW and the School District numbers for Briscoe School. Boldt pointed out that some estimates look at building considerations through the year 2031 and Briscoe is through the year of 2021, so we need to verify that the numbers are good. Boldt said that the Briscoe numbers are based on the estimate by the School District and they need to be verified as well. Pearce noted that the other site options are owned by the City and with Briscoe, we have to consider that, even if there is a waiver of fees. Kenefick said it would not be money lost, but money not earned. Any fees that might be swapped are not budgeted by the City. Di Chiro added that the large classroom spaces at Briscoe do not lend themselves to office spaces. Pearce said that we also have to consider the possibility of having to demolish part of the structure to create parking. Boldt said that the remodeling estimate has to be considered. Boldt added that the City Hall seismic study was on the website.
Kramer said we have to look at soft costs, relocation of staff costs and new system costs. $3 million dollars was allocated for the retrofitting of the existing City Hall for seismic upgrades. Di Chiro said that most of the estimates are pretty broad-brush. Boldt said to summarize, there are a lot of assumptions. Kramer added that the comparability was off and that staff would have to follow up. Briscoe could be partitioned. Di Chiro added that Briscoe was valued at $5 million at the time of its closure.
DISCUSSION OF LARRY COOPER EMAIL:
Kenefick said he did not know Larry Cooper, but he wanted to point out a few excerpts from Cooper’s emails that he sent to Kenefick and to committee members which he felt were valid points. He pointed out:
“The model that was used to project “workstation” space needs….this model is becoming obsolete as I write this…..workers are not tied to specific office spaces. They have their office with them on a phone, tablet or very lightweight and portable laptop….government office is primarily a virtual space….weekly staff meetings happen on line with full video conferencing amenities….This is all happening right now….Ashland has been a bit slow to adopt telecommuting and definitely slow to embrace this future, but it is coming and will be here before any new building is complete.”
“Looking at the structural drawings of that building gave me a sinking feeling that it would be a waste of money to do much there…..Ashland could potentially build a steel I-beam cage on the first floor of the City building that would make it safe for workers on that floor. That would probably cost well under $1 million. If I owned the City, I would do that and then build a new 3 story office building at the East Main Campus to accommodate the rest of City space needs and create a quality work space for the least cost…..I’m also of the opinion that the Briscoe School building is of no value to the City…it was always a crummy space but with nice big windows.”
Kenefick felt it was important to keep these concepts in mind. Shaw noted that Cooper’s statement about the sewage treatment plant was not accurate. The plant was built a long time ago to accommodate the orchards and agricultural use of the land.
ANALYSIS OF EACH OPTION BASED ON APPROVED CRITERIA AND BALLOT PROCESS:
Kenefick felt it is important to point out to the City Council that as Council members they do not have time to do the kind of research that the committee has done.
Kramer said it would be silly to retrofit one floor in City Hall but it is typical to retrofit buildings with FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) and concrete steel so you can survive a maximum creditable event. He added that is a practical and reasonable retrofit for City Hall. Kramer said Cooper’s point about the steel cage was well-taken. It gives us the opportunity to reallocate space and theoretically we could excavate a basement. Briscoe was built in 1949 and probably is semi-reinforced and has all of the retrofit potential as any other building has. Kramer noted that the ORW numbers are high and the Briscoe numbers are low. Di Chiro noted a different firm had come up with those estimates and that they were done longer ago. Thalden said we need to rethink the space needs for employees and develop a bigger picture. Morrison said that one of the goals was to improve the space in City Hall and that it is a poor space with no system to salvage – everything needs to be replaced rather than just be retrofitted. He said we need to take the opportunity to improve all of the systems. Thalden said the steel cage could be outside of the building and if it looks in character with the building. Kramer appreciated Cooper bringing up the steel cage idea. There were no more comments about other emails received from the public.
MEMO FROM JOHN KARNS:
Karns sent a memo to committee members. He had asked City employees how they would rank the criteria developed by the committee and shared the results with the committee.
Shaw said it was not helpful if people have a vote if they are not going to be financially impacted by it. Shaw added that the City has put in so much parking and taken away employee parking and if we build lots, they will use them and still complain – in short, a lot has been done to address parking. Kramer was troubled by the memo. He said he did not see any value in a non-scientific poll of City employees. Committee members have the background and City employees do not, so they cannot give the same level of thought that the committee does. Di Chiro said that City employees are not informed so the committee cannot let the City employee comments affect their thinking.
A ballot was handed out. Di Chiro reminded committee members that they had been asked to do some work on their own, have in their own mind what their highest ranked option is and had made the decision not to weight the six criteria. Consolidation was not considered a priority by the committee and Options 3a and b are unnecessarily costly and not worth our time. Kramer felt it was not necessary to vote on all of the options. He has no interest in Option 3 and made a Motion:
MOTION by Kramer, second by Kenefick that Option 2 (Community Development Expansion/Consolidation) and Option 3 (Consolidate at new Construction at Lithia/Pioneer – alternative to include 1 level of underground parking and alternative to include 2 levels of underground parking) be dropped from further consideration. Kenefick seconded.
Di Chiro felt that the committee should pursue the ballot exercise and would find things to drop off, but everyone should have a voice before we drop Options. Kenefick said it was important to the public and the City Council to show that the committee had discussed all Options. Pearce agreed that it was important to show that the committee was not cavalier, but had reviewed and discussed all Options before making their recommendation. MOTION FAILED, with 3 ayes and 8 nays.
The ballot reflected the 6 approved criteria, as well as the five Options and committee members were asked to score each criteria for each of the Options using the Criteria with a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Each committee member would total their scores for each Option and Morrison and Welch would add them up and also give an average score for each Option. Pearce asked for clarification on Option 1a and 1b – was 1a tearing down and rebuilding the existing City Hall and option 1b repair, restore and rebuild the existing City Hall and retain the stucco veneer? It was clarified that Option 1a is tearing it down and option 1b is the version that Kramer has referred to as ‘gut and stuff.’ It was suggested that 1b should say restructure the existing City Hall.
The voting Tally results are as follows:
- Option is cost effective: The City is spending public dollars wisely
- Option provides flexibility. Provides the City with design and operational flexibility to meet current and future needs
- Preserves civic use of the existing City Hall
- The option is acceptable to voters
- Retains a downtown presence
- The Option addresses parking for employees and customers
Score each criteria for each of the following options using the corresponding list above with a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). The following options correspond to the August 10 memo from Kathol.
- City Hall Expansion (2 alternatives)
- Rebuild existing City Hall $8.5 M 229 (#2)
- Restructure existing City Hall and retain stucco veneer $9.7 M 236 (#1)
- Community Development Expansion/Consolidation $9.5 M 146
- Consolidate at new construction at Lithia/Pioneer (2 alternatives)
- Include 1 level of underground parking (50 stalls) $16 M 159
- Include 2 levels of underground parking (100 stalls) $19.6 M 160
- Courts/Civic Center (2 alternatives)
- Partitioned (retains ComDev) $10 M 187 (#4)
- Centralized (incorporates ComDev) $13 M 180
- Briscoe School $8.1 M 195 (#3)
Kramer said he felt 3b was an outlier and he cannot support it. The top four voted on are entirely appropriate and deserve further discussion. Kenefick wanted to retain 4b for discussion purposes. 1a, 1b, 4a and 5 – MOTION by Kramer, second by Pearce that Options 1a, 1b 4a and 5 remain as Options and all other Options be dropped.
After brief discussion:
AMENDED MOTION by Kramer, second by Pearce to retain Options 1, 4 and 5 and Options 2 and 3 would be dropped. Nickels and Boldt voted nay. Motion carried 9 in favor and 2 nays.
Kramer said that Option #2 did not retain a presence at City Hall, had a lack of consolidation and no parking considerations. Kramer still wanted to revisit how accurate the space needs were. There is a portion of the second floor of City Hall that is unoccupied. Shaw added what was the basis for creating and justifying 8 employee positions? There has not been an analysis of how much space those 8 people will need. The staff allocation was taken by ORW, which took a standard work space ratio and applied it to that number. This system was set up to justify building a more efficient and better City Hall. What is a reasonable compromise? There are opportunities within the existing floor plan that were not given sufficient weight. The committee is a voluntary organization. Boldt said we need to substantiate what we recommend. Di Chiro added that the Options 1, 4 and 5 that remain will be discussed at the next meeting. She likes Option 4a, but what do we keep downtown? Pearce added that his understanding of Option 5 was that the $8.5 million was for rebuilding and right-sizing Briscoe and included adding space. Pearce thinks the City does need more space and it can be used more efficiently. Kenefick said that if we retain ComDev, it does not mean we retain ComDev as it is now. We should not focus on ‘what is there now has to stay there now.’ Option 4a is adding to the buildings that are there now.
Committee member packets contained Amortization Schedules for $1 million in a 3.5% Bond for a 15-year period and for a 20-year period. Packets also contained the Impact of the Options on Assessed Valuations and the current bonded debt in the City of Ashland.
Yvonne Rosemerkle resides in the Briscoe neighborhood and said that she appreciated all that the committee is doing. She did not want to see Briscoe go to private hands. If the City and Parks takes it over - that is one of the neighborhood’s fervent wishes.
Laurel Miller lives across from Briscoe and addressed Sharon Javna’s memo - is there any work being done on the sale or lease of other properties that the City has? Where else is there funding towards preserving the historic nature of Briscoe? Are there any funds available to restore City Hall?. In the interest of all Ashland residents, what are the trade-offs? She felt that Option 1did not address parking at all. To create a solution that incorporates a lot of parking is a short-term focus.
Jim Young is chairman of Lithia Arts Guild and has a proposal that would entail tearing down the art wing of Briscoe and making it into a parking lot and would retain the playground. He felt there was momentum to be gained by passing a bond that allows Briscoe to remain a playground. We need the space at Briscoe as a playground for generations to come and it would make for a beautiful City Hall.
Adjourned at 3:10pm.
Shelly D. Hensarling