The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester reconsiders need for new municipal building

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Canal Winchester officials are once again looking at space needs and the possibility of erecting a new municipal building.

The city completed a facility assessment in 2009 as part of its continuously updated five-year plan. Currently, city offices are located in six separate buildings.

"(This) is the facility assessment from 2009 that we shared with council then," Finance Director Nanisa Osborn said at Canal Winchester City Council's Oct. 29 committee of the whole meeting. "Council and management participated in the survey to decide basic needs and thought they could be met with a 9,500-square-foot building. Right now, we have about 10,000 square feet in our current buildings combined."

According to Osborn and Public Works Director Matt Peoples, city staff members travel regularly among buildings several times a day in order to meet and collaborate on work.

"We're not talking about moving the street or water crews into a new municipal building, but moving Matt and Bill and Shawn (street department supervisor Shawn Starcher) would help," Osborn said. "We move back and forth between the buildings on a regular basis. We just don't have facilities in any building sufficient to do what we do."

The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office, which provides police services to Canal Winchester, maintains a substation in the basement of 10 N. High St. that may be moved to a new building, if one is constructed, Osborn said.

"The police always want to have separate space, but then they spend all the time running back and forth; so maybe they need their own wing, but not to be separate," she said. "What they have downstairs isn't sufficient. They need a secure interview room in the worst way and a secure property room.

"Also, someone who's handicapped has no way to get in or out of their current space conveniently," she added.

City council members asked the city staff to consider arranging a tour of other communities' facilities that might be similar to what Canal Winchester would consider building.

"If we go see a place and like it, then we have to keep in mind it may not work for us," Mayor Michael Ebert said. "We need to consider how our workflow works and keep that in mind. We'll get some tours set up, though."

Development Director Lucas Haire suggested council and the city staff also consider the possibility of leasing space as a way of enticing developers to consider building new office space in Canal Winchester.

"Many cities become an anchor tenant in a larger office project, which may generate more space for further income tax revenue," Haire said.

Council asked that staff members finalize their wish list for a new facility, and what that would mean for possibly selling or repurposing current properties, before moving forward with a possible vote on a new building project.

"No matter what, this will depend on what is a priority at the time," Osborn said. "This would be a project we'd look at for 2014-2015, and as Matt reminded me, you may be doing wastewater upgrades then for phosphorous removal.

"As we go forward, we'll want to make sure the city is positioning itself so that it makes things operate better," she said.

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