City Council hears about City Hall Feasibility Study | News, Sports, Jobs

PROVIDED PHOTO This digital image provided by Buchart Horn Architects provides an overview of possible renovations to the current location of Lock Haven Town Hall at 20 E. Church St.

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven City Council has a lot of information to digest ahead of its February meetings.

Scott Loercher of Buchart Horn Architects presented council with the City Hall feasibility study requested in 2021.

The council has been discussing renovations or rebuilding of City Hall since 2019 with a request for proposals placed in 2021. Buchart came to the city this summer and met with city administration and the police department to discuss this what was needed and improvements to be made.

Loercher’s presentation included design concepts for two possible buildings – a renovated Town Hall at its current location or a new one at the former Town Tavern and Wolf’s Furniture Store sites along Bellefonte Avenue.

“We didn’t work with the city or the police. We kind of used our own experience,” Loercher said of the design.

Before taking a look at these mockups, Loercher reviewed some of his team’s findings during their site visit.

“It’s a 100-year-old building, it has been well used and refurbished. Obviously we are doing the best we can with the space we have,” Loercher said.

The presentation included a list of renovations at 20 E. Church St. that should be completed. Included were ADA compliance issues, potential site drainage issues, mechanical and plumbing upgrades, and changes to the building’s electrical.

The current property is approximately 25,000 square feet, in Loercher’s presentation an addition would be added to the structure to increase the square footage. The addition is expected to be added at the rear of the building, encroaching on the city parking lot. Loercher noted that the building’s front stairs and current elevator entrance would be removed, and the entrance would also be reworked.

Changes would be made throughout the building to provide privacy for employees, easy public access to services, and more space for the city’s police department.

According to Loercher’s figures, the city’s police department uses only about 4,500 square feet of space. The city administration occupies more than 10,000 square feet. Buchart’s plans would see the police department’s square footage increase to 13,500. City administration would only increase to about 11,000 square feet.

The proposed building on Bellefonte Avenue would have roughly the same square footage, Loercher said.

“We did an analysis on this site and organized it similar to the original site”, he said.

City Manager Gregory Wilson noted that looking at the Bellefonte Avenue site doesn’t mean that would be where City Hall could potentially move.

“The original tender (request for proposal) was to take this building, what would it cost and – because there is a site available from the Redevelopment Authority across the street – it was the site designed to construct a building on it”, said Wilson. “It was a piece of land available within the city limits which if the council decides not to renovate this building…it does not default to that being the new location.”

Loercher mirrored Wilson’s statements. “We were looking to compare apples to apples” he said. “We show everything that was done at the same time to show (this) comparison.”

According to Loercher’s presentation, a building on Bellefonte Avenue would feature a lower level divided by an alley and a second floor that would act as a connector between each side. One half would be dedicated to the city’s police department, while the other would house the city administration. Parking lots would be placed behind the building with the lane providing an entrance onto Avenue Bellefonte.

The cost of each building is relatively similar, Loercher said.

To renovate the current location of City Hall, it would cost approximately $4.1 million. To build along Bellefonte Avenue would cost approximately $4.8 million.

“It’s quite similar…I was a little surprised,” Loercher said.

Loercher also included “soft costs” to the proposal which includes design fees, site engineering, construction contingencies, and even furniture, driving the costs up to $6 million at the current location and $6.7 million the along Bellefonte Avenue.

“(The cost) is constantly changing. This was done in November, probably the peak of high costs. We are seeing some stabilization,” Loercher said. “These numbers are flexible, but they are current in today’s market.”

The projected numbers also do not include a phased approach, he added.

“We try to give you an overall picture of the planning process,” Loercher said.

Wilson told the board he noted another discussion regarding the topic of the Feb. 21 board meeting and said he could invite Loercher via Zoom to answer any questions.

“Really, whenever you feel like you’re ready to ask additional questions,” he said.

Councilman Steve Stevenson asked about potential funding for either project.

“When we come back to this topic in a month, how this could potentially be funded would be something that could be discussed,” he said.

All board members were present for Monday’s meeting. The board will meet again on Monday February 7 in the board room. The meeting will also be streamed live on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

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