By Adam Hocking
Editor’s note: Members of the Marshfield Common Council, Mayor Chris Meyer, and City Administrator Steve Barg met Tuesday, July 28, in the city’s sixth strategic planning session. Much of the conversation focused on the state of city-owned facilities.
Discussed were the long-term viability of city hall as a location for city departments, the space limitations of the current police department, and the possibility of combining currently separate facilities under a single roof in the future. It is important to note that strategic planning sessions involve conversations that are conceptual in nature and do not represent any imminent action from the city.
This article is the first of a three-part series and concerns city hall.
MARSHFIELD — The city has made no commitment to building a new city hall, but with an aging building, it is at least an option the city may explore.
“This is just an opportunity for us to talk about whether or not financially this is the best place for us. And if it is great and if it’s not, then we talk about what we do from there,” Meyer said during the strategic planning meeting.
A City Hall Needs Analysis study, published in March of 2014 by consulting firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc., pointed to numerous issues with the existing city hall building, including difficulty with hot water reaching the higher floors, the air handling unit from the fourth floor down is original to the building “circa 1957,” hot water boilers are nearing the end of their recommended use, several areas of ductwork need to be repaired, the need to replace some cast iron piping, and the fact that there is no overall security system for the building, among other issues. The report also recommended replacing urinals, lavatories, and faucets with water-conserving models and said that the parking lot should be replaced in the next 10 years.
Zimmerman put the total project cost of a constructing a new city hall at over $6.7 million based on a projected need of 23,000 square feet. The current city hall is 70,000 square feet, according to Director of Public Works Dan Knoeck, though city departments only occupy the second floor and floors five through seven. County offices and commercial enterprises rent much of the other space.
The city hall building has served several purposes since its construction in 1927 and was not originally built to house government offices.
Zimmerman also proposed possible renovation plans. One such plan would cost a projected total of $153,564 and, when compared to a more extensive renovation, would be, according to the study, “a way of providing a moderate commitment to the building at a minimal cost.” Much of the work proposed in that plan has already been done by the city, including relocating the finance office within the building, moving the assessor office, and creating space on the seventh floor for IT expansion, modifications that cost about $50,000, Knoeck said.
A more expansive renovation to the building Zimmerman estimated at a total cost of about $546,000. The report also listed a cost for over $2.6 million in “deferred maintenance,” which are items that the city would like to improve or repair but might not be financially feasible, especially if the city feels it may move out of the building in the next several years.
When asked whether or not he saw city offices being located at the current city hall in 10 to 15 years, Barg said, “I think it’s very possible — if not probable — that in a 10- to 15-year window other plans may be made for moving city hall to a different location.”