BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
An estimated $400,000 DPW and city hall expansion project is out for bids after city council approved its site plan.
Council voted 4-3, Mayor Joe Luginski, and council members Michael Sabol, Eric Haven, and Sharron Catallo voting in favor, and Council members David Marsh, Al Avery, and Jason Kneisc voting against, April 11.
Kneisc said the proposed three-bay DPW garage clashed with the existing city hall in Depot Park.
“To me, it’s not asthetically pleasing,” he said.
Catallo disagreed, saying downtown Clarkston has several building styles side by side.
“Look at the old gas station, Morgan’s, next to dentist office, the oldest building in town – it works,” she said. “They’re going to fit together better than you think.”
Luginski said site plan approval does not lock in the design.
“This is just the site plan approval to go out to bid,” the mayor said.
“We have said it ad nauseam and yet people continue to assume it is a foregone conclusion,” he said. “From my standpoint it is absolutely not. I’ve been saying it for two years – I need the costs before I make my decision.”
Resident Karen Eckert was resigned to the project moving forward.
“You’re going to do a meeting room, in six months or a year,” Eckert said.
Architect James Renaud said the site plan is unchanged since last October, when council was presented with three options.
“It’s the same design you saw back in February when you had the townhall meeting,” Renaud said.
City council approved paying $23,000 in architectural and design fees to the architect for the plan, which calls for a three-bay, 2,000-square-foot addition to the north side of city hall.
As approved by Clarkston Historic District Commission, the design matches the “community context” of the area, Renaud said.
“The Mills, the original industrial buildings in the area from the 1930s and 1940s, with tall windows, black frames, metal industrial type building – that’s where the context came from,” he said.
A project cost estimate in November was $335,785. A loan analysis estimated total costs with interest at $442,547.
Options included in the plan include different exterior materials and renovation of an existing garage bay into meeting, office, and bathroom facilities.
Catallo said the project should include the interior renovation work.
“Honestly, we sort of need a meeting room, a place where the community can hold their own meetings if they want to,” she said. “I find it terribly uncomfortable. It isn’t fair at all. It’s not very professional and not very pleasant. If we have an opportunity to recapture a bay and use it to be able to offer to the public, we should.”
Speaking during public comment, resident Bob Huth said he is concerned with safety for children using the park as DPW trucks enter and leave the enlarged facility.
“The traffic in and out of the building, with all the vehicles housed here,” Huth said. “I don’t like the plan. I think there are other ways to look at it.”
He also called for more engineering information to be made available to the council and public for review.
Resident Steven Percival said the city should consider ways to raise funds to improve the addition’s appearance.
“I’d like to look at something a little more pleasing to the eye, especially looking onto the park,” Percival said. “We want it to look appropriate.”
Avery said there has been a lot of discussion in the community from those who don’t like the look of the building, but Mayor Luginski said to keep it in perspective.
“It’s 6-10 people – a handful of people who come every week,” he said. “We haven’t heard from anyone else.”
A petition to stop a city hall construction project last July collected 116 signatures.
With a three week bidding period, bids are due back by about May 10.
Luginski said they can schedule a special meeting to open the bids and possibly approve the project on May 16. City council can schedule the bid approval meeting at its next meeting on April 25.
Sabol said they should schedule it for a regular meeting.
“We need to keep it to the schedule,” he said. “If we don’t, it will look like we’re trying to do something separately. I don’t think there’s urgency in that need.”