Common council will discuss putting out RFP at next meeting
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Common Council will consider taking a potential first step towards moving on from an aging city hall building at its next meeting.
At the Wednesday, Sept. 30, special common council meeting, Mayor Chris Meyer asked that the council discuss putting out a request for proposal to gauge the interest in the possible development of City Hall. That discussion will take place at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 13. Hub City Times chronicled the issues with the existing city hall in a previous article, which can be located online here.
City Hall is about 70,000 square feet, and Meyer estimated that city offices only require about 25,000 square feet to comfortably operate. A City Hall Needs Analysis study, published in March of 2014 by the consulting firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc., pointed to $2.6 million in deferred maintenance needs for the building, 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.
In essence, Meyer said, City Hall is too large and costs too much to operate, and the building is outdated, requiring significant ongoing and future maintenance. Meyer added that because of the size of City Hall, the city leases space out to private businesses, which puts it in competition with downtown landlords.
“The question becomes, ‘Is this the best way to spend taxpayer dollars?’” Meyer said. He added that prior to any decision the city would make toward relocating, a number of requirements would need to be met.
“First, we have to know where we’re going, meaning we aren’t going to put City Hall up for sale without knowing what we’re going to do. And two, we have to have City Hall sold before we do that.”
The city has had developers interested in the city hall building in the past.
“We’re not looking the sell the building for a dollar. We don’t have to move,” Meyer said. He later added, “It’s got to be a cheaper option for the taxpayers. If it’s not cheaper, we’re not doing it. We’re not going to move into a new building that costs 10 percent more. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Meyer said the city is in the process of determining how much it costs them to operate City Hall versus a potential smaller space that more closely fits the city’s needs. Opening up the city hall building to a request for proposal would create a competitive dynamic where contractors and developers have the opportunity to present their bids/proposals to the city for consideration.
When Hub City Times asked City Administrator Steve Barg in August if he saw city hall as a long-term location for city offices, he said at that time, “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.”