by TaLeiza Calloway
Residents will have a chance to share their vision for a proposed community center Wednesday, Sept. 26.
City council members set the date for the open house during a work session Sept. 12. Drawings of design options and associated costs are expected to be available during the open house. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph City Hall.
The city’s facilities committee gave the city council an update Sept. 12 on the government center/community project. Dale Wick, council member and facilities committee member, explained the results of a recent meeting with the construction management firm, R.A. Morton.
Wick said options considered in preliminary meetings include adding on to the existing building; leveling the site and building a two-story facility with the police department on the bottom or on the main level with city offices on another level – something believed to allow more parking; or leveling the site and finding parking externally and using the entire site for a one-level shop.
Wick said the construction management firm is working on cost estimates for starting from scratch and adding on to the existing city hall. The gathering process for these numbers takes a couple weeks.
The existing city hall was built in 1979. City council member Bob Loso was in favor of adding another level to the existing building and staying in downtown St. Joseph. From a budget perspective, he said he was concerned about buying property for possible external parking.
St. Joseph resident Mike McDonald said he wanted more explanation of plans for a community center and the need for a new government center.
“What I would like to see is just talk about what are you going to (do) to build a community center,” he said. “I’ve had the CIP for many years and there’s never been a long-range project to replace this building.”
Wick explained the city has been reviewing space needs since 2008, but it has not been in the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP).
City Administrator Judy Weyrens told officials as they begin to envision a new community center, parking is an important component. The staff is looking at possible external sites for parking if needed.
“What it really comes down to, I think,” Weyrens said, “is if people are committed and they want a community center and city offices to remain in this spot, then how do you accommodate the parking?”