Orion Township officials explore options for a new township hall

By Jim Newell

Review Editor

The Orion Township Board of Trustees held a special meeting on Thursday to consider plans to build a new township hall and renovate some of its facilities, including the Department of Public Works building and Fire Station #3 on Gregory Road.

The board had previously approved an $18,000 contract for a local architectural firm to assist in an overall facilities study and township hall plan, said Supervisor Chris Barnett.

Steve Auger of Auger Klein Aller Architects Inc. presented the results of the study – The Charter Township of Orion Space Allocation Study – and a proposal for the possibilities of new construction and renovations.

Auger Klein Aller were also the architects on the newly finished Fire Station #1 project on Anderson Street in the Village of Lake Orion.

Under the estimated probable project costs, renovating the existing township hall to meet the anticipated growth estimates would cost $9.15 million to expand to 38,875 square feet.

Building a new township hall is estimated to cost $10.93 million for 38,441 square feet.

The township has already set aside $2.5 million to begin the process, Barnett said.

The current township hall was built in 1974 and expanded in 1996, giving the building a total footprint of about 20,000 square feet. “It’s not conducive to doing business productively,” said Treasurer Donni Steele.

“We are at a point where in the very near future we need to make some decisions. The current building is old and tired,” Barnett said. “In my opinion, we are at a crossroads. We didn’t do a study just to let it sit on the shelf for another ten years.”

The township has had previous space allocation studies done in 2002 and 2008. “This has been identified as a need now for at least 10 years,” Auger said.

Most township officials and board members agreed that they were outgrowing their current space and would need to look at expanding in the future. Barnett, Steele, Clerk Penny Shults, and trustees Brian Birney, Mike Flood and Julia Dalrymple all supported looking into building a new township hall.

“I don’t want to spend any money, but that’s me,” said Trustee John Steimel. “You should include the costs of the demo (of the current township hall) if you’re going to build new.”

Trustee Brian Birney said the township has been talking about expanding for 20 years and all of the employees are begging for new facilities. “To me, it’s a no-brainer. I would like to see how we pay for it and how do we get out of the old building,” he said.

Possibilities for paying for the renovations or a new building included a bond or loan, “pay as you go” or “essentially getting a mortgage,” Barnett said. “This is how communities pay for this. Very rarely do they pay cash. We don’t have $12 million in the bank.”

This was the initial public meeting on the proposal and board members asked Barnett and his staff to bring back payment options at the next meeting. No decision has yet been made on whether to renovate or build a new township hall, nor on how the township would ultimately finance the project.

The study also looked at the DPW building on Joslyn Road, estimating $2.64 million for an expansion to that facility. That project could be paid for out of the township’s water and sewer fund.

Director of Public Works Jeff Stout said the DPW has the funds to pay for the DPW building expansion. The current building, built in the early 1980s, desperately needs more space.

“We have equipment that is being stored outside that has no business being outside,” he said.

Plans also include a 2,000 square foot expansion at Fire Station #3 on Gregory Road at a projected cost of $967,440. The fire department’s office, which are currently in township hall, would move to that proposed expanded facility.

“That’s not bad, and we gain a lot of square footage at township hall,” Shults said.

If the board decides to pursue a new township hall it would take some time before they could occupy a new building. Auger said it would take 25-36 months to complete work on a new township hall, though the DPW and fire station projects could be done sooner.

If the township does build a new township hall, it would likely be on township-owned property just north of Greenshield Road, not far from the current building. Employees would continue to operate out of the current building and move after the new building is finished, saving on relocation costs that would be incurred if the township decides to renovate the existing building.

One of the areas that township officials said is in desperate need of additional space is the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office – Orion Twp. Substation. The current 3,600 square feet doesn’t meet the department’s needs by any measure, Auger said. “They do the most with the least.”


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