arkville Mayor Kathy Dusenbery describes plans for the new city hall as “a win-win situation” for citizens and officials alike, as the new facility looks to increase productivity while sparing citizens from financial growing pains.
Excavation work is going on at the site of the new city hall at the intersection of Lewis and Clark streets in the Parkville Commons. Existing soil at the site is being replaced with higher quality soil.
“All the development in the area has caused a need for us to expand so we can handle the workload,” said Dusenbery.
The current facility, tucked in next to Park University’s baseball diamond, has become insufficient for a town rapidly growing since the mid 90’s.
“Before things like Riss Lake were around, we used to be in the train station,” said Alderman Jack Friedman. “When we passed the bond issue for the building we’re in now, we honestly thought it would be enough, considering our size and where we thought we would be in the near future.”
The turnaround point for Parkville’s progress came from an unexpected and tragic event.
“The flood of ’93 was really what revitalized the city,” said Friedman. “Before there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the area and the downtown wasn’t much better either. There were a lot of junk shops with stuff piled up to the ceiling. Most of the shop owners were retired people happy with where they were at. Then the flood hit and the majority of them were wiped out. It was the nail in the coffin for the old Parkville. As sad as it was, it became the impetus for what we are now.”
What Parkville “is” might be summed up in one word—progressive. A revamped downtown filled with original shops and restaurants has helped draw more people to the area than ever before. New buildings and businesses are popping up all over Highway 9. In order to keep things under control, city leaders realized they have to function at a more efficient level than in the past.
“We had an option to make repairs and add onto the old location, which I was fighting for in the beginning,’ said Friedman. “But after the analysis of what the cost would be to the city, we came to realize that the new facility would have so much more to offer with the additional space we need. And the best thing is that it won’t cost our citizens anything extra in taxes.”
According to city administrator Joe Turner, the old building needs repair of the roof, heating/air conditioning system, plus the addition of an elevator to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The total cost was estimated at $940,000.
The facility also needed a 9,000 square foot addition to the existent 14,000, a measure Turner says would’ve been necessary for departments to operate smoothly. Adding the space would’ve cost a staggering $3.28 million. The new facility’s estimated space is approximately 23,000 square feet, some of which can be converted into offices if need be. Its lease allows for the building of any add-ons to the east and west side if expansion continues.
“To try and expand the old building on a 30 degree slope just wasn’t that feasible,” said Alderman Dave Rittman. “The new place already comes with that space built in.”
Other features of the new facility include better access and parking, an improved court room set up, and better resistance to inclement weather.
Rittman says the old building isn’t just a liability, however.
“Since the value of land has gone up significantly in recent years, the appraisal we got for the current building was significantly high,” he said. “We’re going to use that value to market it to another non-profit group and come out ahead.”
“We’re going to pay for the new facility with the monies from the sale of the old building,” said Dusenbery. “Those, plus monies from the capital improvement election will make our payments in the new facility the same as what we pay now.”
The aldermen also locked in the old building’s interest rate, a move Rittman says will save a lot of money.
“For those who thought we should wait five years before getting a new place didn’t consider how the rates and property values will go up considerably,” he said. “I can look any citizen in the eye and tell them this is a good investment.” Groundbreaking for the new facility will be in early March, with completion speculated sometime around next fall or winter. Although the facility looks to be a symbol of Parkville’s continuing progress, Rittman says the building will conform to the city’s classic look.
“All we’re waiting on is final construction bids and the decision of how it’s going to appear aesthetically,” he said. “It might be brick or half-brick. Either way the goal is to blend into the community.”
“I’ve been on the board for many years,” said Friedman, “and no one could’ve ever predicted the success this city would see between the flood and now. We want growth, but we want to keep Parkville what it is. It’s a place with an old-time feel and warmth you can escape to.” “We want everybody to come out to the ground-breaking ceremony,” said Dusenbery. We want to let them know that this building will be something the city can be proud of for generations to come.”