Pataskala police probably will have to spend another winter in the former town hall at 430 S. Main St.

Pataskala police probably will have to spend another winter in the former town hall at 430 S. Main St.

"It will be just like it has been in years past -- cold and drafty. That's the way it is in here," police Chief Chris Forshey said.

Forshey said the city has considered moving the police department out of the older building because costly repairs are needed. The city sent requests for proposals to 10 central Ohio architectural firms and interviewed two: Meachum & Apel of Dublin and Wachtel & Mcanally of Newark.

B.J. King, assistant city administrator, said both were asked to submit bids on completing a feasibility study to move the police department into Pataskala City Hall, 621 W. Broad St.

This is being referred to as phase 2 of the feasibility study. City staff completed the first phase and on April 14 presented Pataskala City Council with four options: keep the building and make repairs in phases, sell it for fair market value and move the department into City Hall on Broad Street, find private space for the department to lease or build anew.

King said no other city buildings are available that could house the police department, and other city officials have said building anew is not possible with the city's current financial situation.

Finding private space to lease also might be difficult, officials have said, because the location of a police department is important.

An operational analysis done in the spring shows it costs $36,000 to $38,000 to operate the department in the older building and it could cost less to operate the department in City Hall. The building has been appraised at $255,000.

The city has not yet contracted with either architectural firm, King said. Council has given city administrator Timothy Boland the authorization to enter into a contract, though.

Boland said the cost is estimated at about $12,500.

Forshey initially raised concerns about the building in December 2007, when he told council utility costs were adding another $80,000 to the department's budget.

The building on state Route 310 is on the National Register of Historic Places and is not very energy-efficient. Forshey said it is heated with steam heat, but the windows are not sealed well-enough to retain heat. The wiring is old, and the department frequently overloads the circuits. Also, window air conditioners, which are inefficient, are used in the building.

The building was constructed in the early 1900s as a town hall and still includes a third-floor theatre, which has been damaged over the years by a leaking roof.

A group headed by Connie Klema is trying to save the building by perhaps purchasing or leasing it with hopes of completing repairs through a nonprofit group.

Klema said this week that she has raised almost enough money through private donations to hire a structural engineer who would provide the group with a list of more detailed repairs. Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), which is investigating the feasibility of leasing space in the building, could provide some funding for the structural engineer, Klema said.

She said after the structural engineer is hired, the group could learn whether it's possible to save the building. Klema said her hope is that the theatre could be restored and used by the public for movies, dances or other public events. The rest of the building could provide office space for several organizations. COTC and the West Licking Historical Society are two that have been identified as interested parties.

COTC president Bonnie Coe said the college is investigating the feasibility of renovating the space to use.

"We use various companies to come in and do feasibility studies on buildings that could be converted for another use," Coe said.

She said the college might be willing to share in the cost of a feasibility study.

"We're still at the very early stage of exploration," Coe said, adding that the college's board has not yet discussed use of the building. She and the college's chief financial officer are working with a staff architect first to determine the feasibility of using the building.

"I can't say enough about the overwhelming support and all the excited people we have here in the city," Klema said.

During the Pataskala Street Fair, Klema said, many people talked about having wonderful experiences in the building years ago.

"We're still receiving donations," she said. "We need a lot of donations and hopefully some grant money to complete this project and fulfill our dreams."