By Jim Newell
Construction on the Orion Township Municipal Complex is on schedule and township officials, the architect and construction managers are cautiously optimistic with the progress.
Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett and Public Works Director Jeff Stout meet every week with Scott Reynolds, project architect with Auger Klein Aller, and Cunningham-Limp construction project superintendent Josh Muxlow, project manager Jacob Gardner and project coordinator Natalie Tynen.
“We meet every Wednesday for a kind of a team huddle and talk about any issues we’re having. So far, there’s been very few,” Barnett said. “These guys have been doing a great job.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, construction crews were working on pouring the street curbs. The next day they hoped to pour the concrete footings for the township hall portion of the project.
The project is slated to be completed late fall of 2021.
Before the cement work, crews finished installing the utilities.
“All of the underground utilities are in,” Reynolds said. “There are sleeves in the ground for utilities like DTE, Consumers, AT&T, all of their sleeves are there so they’re just going to feed all of that through. There’s quite a bit that’s happened other than what you see here.”
Barnett said getting the utilities in with no major problems sets the project off to a great start.
“The hardest part of a project is the unknowns – what kind of dirt do we have, hidden issues with underground utilities and stuff. And that stuff is all done. We just have to get this road paved and we’ll be all good for winter,” Barnett said. “We’ve got them on a tight schedule, but so far so good.”
The warm weather last week helped with the project, Reynolds said, noting that the foundations for the sheriff’s office are already poured.
“We’ve got all the curbs poured for the main drive and aggregate base down, so we’ll actually be expecting to pave next week,” Reynolds said on Nov.11. “That’s all great accomplishments for the site. Overall, we’ve run into some good conditions favorable to make construction go nicely, so that’s great.
If everything goes to plan and the weather cooperates, construction crews were to pour the concrete parking lots and roads this week.
“They’ve been pushing themselves hard to get these roads in,” Barnett said. “To see the curbs going in and roads going in (probably this week), it really cements the schedule.”
Reynolds said he was “very happy” with the progress so far and he’s been reviewing items and coordinating with the construction managers and their sub-trades before work goes into the ground.
“This is all the base foundations you see here. That will all get poured and then you’ll see the walls start coming up vertically next,” he said. “Things have been going great, all the soil conditions were good. Since the property hasn’t ever been developed, we didn’t find any unforeseen conditions, rubble or something like that, which sometimes you get on sites.”
Reynolds said crews would work throughout the winter in order to complete the project.
“We knew going into it that there was going to be winter conditions. So, foundations can go into the ground now, there’s a handful of it that has to get in for steel (framework) to start coming up. But, even if snow starts falling, you’ll see steel start coming out, specifically with the sheriff’s department. You’ll see the shape start to happen and then walls go up around it next.”
The Orion Township Municipal Complex is an $18.4 million development that, when finished, will include a new township hall, a new police station with fenced parking for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and planned future site development for a municipal park.
The municipal complex will also be a trailhead and have a connector trail to the Polly Ann Trail.
The Orion Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 during its Aug. 17 to move forward with the proposed Orion Township Municipal Complex and hire Cunningham-Limp as the project manager.
Barnett has said numerous times that he wants the project to be “the most transparent government project” ever.
The township has a “New Municipal Complex” tab on the homepage of its website, oriontownship.org. The link has information about the progress of the project including a live webcam that shows an updated photo every 30 minutes, drone pictures of construction activity updated weekly and monthly progress reports.
Township officials and their construction team have rebranded the development as the Orion Township Municipal Complex because they will be “activating” the 77 acres of township-owned land on Joslyn Road between Greenshield and Scripps roads.
The Municipal Complex will also include a large community room, future trailheads, parks and room for growth and extra storage. Currently, some departments, such as the clerk’s office, store materials off-site from Township Hall.
The police substation will be 8,820 square feet (SF) and cost $2.492 million. The Township Hall portion of the project will be 43,675 SF, which includes an additional 8,000 SF on the lower level (basement). The Township Hall portion will cost $9.651 million.
Site development – “activating” the 77 acres of land – is projected at $4.211 million. This includes infrastructure, driveways to Scripps and Joslyn roads, parking lots and future development.
There is a $500,000 contingency planned, $1,319,500 for owner-procured items (furniture, technology, etc.), $131,500 for the bond issuance cost and $107,500 for design fees.