The Canal Winchester Times

Planning for the future

Peoples: City should plan to replace, remodel some buildings

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A list of infrastructure improvements detailed for Canal Winchester City Council at its March 31 meeting could include replacing the salt barn and public works building and making changes to the municipal building.

The city's capital improvement plan (CIP) includes an estimated $2 million for the work.

The salt barn and public works buildings date back to 1955 and are still structurally sound, but inadequate for modern needs, Public Works Director Matt Peoples said.

"We currently have 11 garage bays for 15 vehicles, not including all of our non-truck equipment. The garage doors are only 12 feet wide while our biggest truck is 11-feet, 9-inches wide," he said.

"The salt barn used to hold 500 tons, but we can only hold about 300 tons in there now due to the walls bowing, and we use 750 tons a year on average, meaning we have to refill the barn multiple times each winter."

In addition, Peoples said there is only one bathroom in the public works building for the 14 or more employees based there, depending on seasonal staffing levels.

Some staff members are forced to work out of either the water treatment facility or the municipal building, instead of the public works building due to space limitations, he said, and there are security concerns because the city data center is located in what otherwise would be a hallway.

"We need a salt barn that will hold at least 1,200 tons so that we have wiggle room for the way we contract salt and don't have to worry about how to get it or store it, which was a particular problem this year," Peoples said. "We still owe Violet Township 60 tons because of that.

"Basically, we're looking at a clear-span style metal building that can go up fast and give us a lot of flexibility," he said. "Moving Rick Brown (technology coordinator) out of the hallway in the municipal building will let us install better security at that building and moving my guys out of the water treatment plant will open that back up for its intended use."

Besides the public works building, Peoples said his department is trying to determine the best use for the Interurban building, which is currently vacant. The building, built as a terminal for an electric trolley system connecting Canal Winchester with other central Ohio towns, needs about $150,000 in renovations, but only about $32,000 currently is available, he said.

"There's no ceiling, no heat; we've had a water leak in there and we have an external electric panel which isn't code, so that's just the mechanical issues that we're looking at," he said.

Plans were drafted for the Interurban building to be used as a meeting space, with a small office and two restrooms, but neither city council nor city administrators have decided whether to pursue that use for the building.

Mayor Michael Ebert said he would like some direction soon, so the building's mechanicals can be addressed before the historic structure has any more deterioration from just sitting.

Peoples also pointed to the OP Chaney Mill and the covered bridge as historic structures in significant need of maintenance to keep them presentable and to preserve them into the future.

"I'm looking at what the first impression of what people see when they come to the city, and what is on our nice new city logo," Councilman Steve Donahue said. "We know something is going to have to happen to the mill and the bridge; shouldn't we find a way to pay for that?"

Councilman Joe Abbott suggested that Finance Director Amanda Jackson work with Peoples to come up with a list of projects that might be done with the $2 million currently noted in the CIP. Council could then make a decision about a possible short-term bond-anticipation note, or a longer-term bond, he said.

"Whatever we do, we want something that will last us another 55 years," Peoples said.

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