Date: Fri 22-Jan-1999
Town Hall Bd of Managers Weighs In On Office Space
BY STEVE BIGHAM
For months, the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers has been watching quietly
as the town discussed its municipal space needs and tried to find a solution.
On Wednesday, the board joined the discussion.
Board member Marie Sturdevant told the town's municipal space needs committee
that the Board of Managers has felt out of the loop as far as municipal space
needs planning has gone.
"The board has not included us in any of their studies," Mrs Sturdevant said.
"We are trying to come up with our five-year plan, but we don't know what you
have in mind."
For example, she said, renovations in the Alexandria Room kitchen are very
high on her board's list of things to do. However, kitchen renovations are
down at the bottom of the space needs committee list. Fire Marshal George
Lockwood reiterated earlier this month that cooking is not allowed in the
Alexandria Room. As it is currently set up, the kitchen does not meet fire
code, he said.
Mrs Sturdevant said she is concerned with the way the town hall is being
described in the press. It sounds like the building is ready to be condemned,
she said. Not so, she added. The building is in obvious need of some major
code updates and more space, but it has not been neglected, she said.
Mrs Sturdevant said her board would be "very receptive" to a plan to add on as
much as 23,000 square feet of space to Edmond Town Hall, something the
municipal space needs committee is seriously considering.
"We could add on out through the back of the building, similar to what they
did on the library. That way, you preserve the front," Mrs Sturdevant said.
"We have the lower parking and more property behind the [Hook & Ladder]
The Board of Managers is also concerned that town offices could be moved out
of Edmond Town Hall if a new town government facility is built. However,
committee member Bob Hall assured Mrs Sturdevant that the idea of moving town
offices out of the building was a worst-case scenario. The space needs
committee appears to be leaning toward an addition at Edmond Town Hall.
Committee member Charles Nanavaty certainly is. He favors a plan that adds
23,500 square feet of space to Edmond Town Hall, renovates Town Hall South for
police, and provides a new structure for the Hook & Ladder Fire Company. The
estimated cost: just under $19 million.
There are three other scenarios also being considered. One plan is similar to
the one Mr Nanavaty backs, while the other two call for the construction of a
new 25,000-square-foot facility with renovations and no addition to Edmond
So when will the committee complete its year-long study and present a
recommendation to the Board of Selectmen?
"We're trying to find the end of the rainbow," Bill Brimmer, chairman of the
space needs committee, said.
Architect Rusty Malik made it clear once again Wednesday that Fairfield Hills'
Watertown Hall is not suitable for a school or town office building. He has
recommended the building be demolished at a cost of $1 million, which includes
Hook & Ladder
The town is prepared to build a new Hook & Ladder building to replace the
failing structure behind Edmond Town Hall. However, the estimated $3.3 million
cost is a little high.
"[Members of Hook & Ladder] say it can be done much cheaper. They don't need
all this," noted First Selectman Herb Rosenthal.
A drop in the cost would be a big help to the town, especially when, overall,
planned municipal projects could cost as much as $20 million.
Possible sites for a new Hook & Ladder building include Queen Street (where
the town just purchased a strip of land from the state), Route 302 (just west
of The Pleasance) and at the ambulance garage on Route 25.
"The ambulance garage would be a great site. It's very central, but it's
probably not big enough," Mr Rosenthal said.
The committee agreed it needed more comments from Hook & Ladder
representatives, who have so far been tight-lipped about what they want.
Mrs Sturdevant said having a firehouse behind the town hall is extremely
A New Police Facility?
Police Chief James Lysaght said he is pleased with the prospect of a renovated
police department at Town Hall South. However, he believes it would be more
cost effective for the town to put up a new building, which could also house
other public safety facilities.
"Even with a renovation of Town Hall South, there is still insufficient land
on the site. Parking is a problem," Chief Lysaght said. "You need an area for
the fleet, an area for the public and an area for the working people there.
You also need an area for an impound lot."
The police chief suggested it might be cost effective for the town to purchase
the nearby Pleasance property and additional six acres behind Town Hall South
from Bee publisher R. Scudder Smith. The land is currently for sale for $1.2
As Chief Lysaght points out, the land is centrally located, lies at the
intersection of two major roads and has access roads in and out.
"You're not going to find a better location inside of Newtown for public
safety," he said.
Newtown resident Ruby Johnson also spoke, urging the panel to reconsider
purchasing the Fairfield Hills property. Mrs Johnson has led a petition drive
to convince Mr Rosenthal to seriously consider buying the central property of
the former state mental institute. She sees Newtown growing and believes
having that choice land will serve the town well in the future.