Let the work commence! Clarkston breaks ground for ‘new’ city hall, parking

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
After more than 10 years of planning, setbacks, and replanning, work on expanding and renovating Clarkston’s city hall has begun.
“We’re so excited it’s finally happening – I believe it’s the fourth attempt,” said City Manager Jonathan Smith at a May 16 groundbreaking ceremony. Smith said the renovation project should be completed by Oct. 31, “If not sooner. We want this completed before the (November 5) election as city hall is a polling place.”
Mayor Eric Haven said, “The team found a solution. This is an exciting day.”

From left (front), builder Sam Moraco, DPW Director Mike Speagle, designer Jerome Carter, and City Manager Jonathan Smith break ground on the city hall project, with (back) Mayor Eric Haven, Planning Commissioner Rich Little, and City Council member Susan Wylie. Photo by Phil Custodio

Construction will start with excavating the front driveway, then rebuilding the current two-bay Department of Public Works garage into a three-bay garage, with additional workshop, work bench, and office for the DPW supervisor, and a 688-square-foot meeting room, about twice the size of the existing meeting space.
The $300,00 project adds eight feet to the north side of the 42-year-old Artemus M. Pappas Village Hall, along with new roof, siding, trim, and paint, new security entrance, and public restroom.
City staff will remain in the city hall throughout the project. Office hours will remain the same, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Friday.
“The plan is to keep the city office open the entire time,” Smith said.
Two shipping container boxes on the property will be used to store DPW equipment from the garage, as well as records and items from the office.
A rain garden next to the building will be replanted on the other side of the Depot Park walkway, between the walkway and the Millrace, Smith said.
“We’re not losing the rain garden. We’re just moving it,” he said. “We need the space for the driveway.”
The new rain garden will be at least the size of the pre-construction garden, he added.he said. “We need the space for the driveway.”
The new rain garden will be at least the size of the pre-construction garden, he added.
“The new location will have the added benefit of controlling erosion and protecting walkers from tripping in the ravine where drainage into the Millrace occurs,” he said.
The city will help with the relocation by paying for the one larger tree to be transplanted, providing partial funding for the new plantings, purchasing educational signage and assisting with the ground preparation, he said.
The project was designed as a community effort, with work by Construction Tech students from Clarkston Community Schools to lower labor costs and provide training for students.
“This is truly a community effort,” Haven said. “Young people will be involved, hopefully many will start their careers here.”
They’re also working with local contractors to provide donated or reduced cost services, such as a roll-off dumpster donated by TNR Disposal, Smith said.
When construction moves to the front office entrance, a temporary sidewalk will be instaled outside the construction fence to the rear door. “Signage will be in place during that time to direct you,” Smith said.
The city borrowed the $300,000 from its sewer and water budgets, to be repaid at one percent interest. With cost reductions of $700 a month in offsite storage of records and equipment and $160 for portable toilets in Depot Park, the city will pay a net monthly increase of $595, Smith said.
In 2016, the city bid out a city hall renovation and expansion project, and pulled the plug on it when costs came in at more than $600,000. Clarkston previously paid $1,600 a month for its old DPW building at 3 E. Church Street.