NORTHFIELD CENTER — Whether the township government will have a new home or continue to make due with the current Town Hall will be up to the voters in the Nov. 5 general election.
Issue 3 is a 0.47-mill, 30-year levy that would raise $1.4 million for the purchase of the former FirstMerit Bank building at 9447 Olde Eight Road, across the street from the Nordonia Hills Branch Library. If approved, the township would renovate the former bank and move government offices from the current 109-year-old Town Hall on Brandywine Road off the five points intersection of Brandywine, Olde Eight and Route 82.
The cost of the levy to homeowners would be $14.70 annually per $100,000 in market value of a home.
Township officials say the current Town Hall, which was built in 1910, has had a variety of issues which estimates say could cost as much as $1 million to deal with. These include asbestos and pathogenic mold, at least some of which has been mitigated; aging heating, air conditioning and drainage systems; lack of federal Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility; pest and vermin problems; difficulties in adapting a building originally designed as a community center and theater for government use; a lack of security for staff; and energy inefficiency.
In addition, township officials have said, the estimates do not necessarily factor in all costs, including making the building fully functional for government use, as well as the cost of relocating staff to another location temporarily while renovations are taking place.
Also, officials say state law would only allow renovations of the existing structure to be financed over seven years, not 30 years as allowed for purchase of a new building. So even if renovating the existing building could be done for less money, officials say the cost could not be spread out over a longer period of time and would therefore come at a much higher cost per year to property owners.
Township Trustees say that what would happen to the current Town Hall if the bank building is purchased is not yet clear, but they want to see it preserved for some use.
The bank building, meanwhile, has been touted as a desirable property due to its location near both the library and school district central offices, creating a government corridor along Olde Eight, and it would not be impacted if the state ever widens Route 82.
In addition, the building, which was constructed in 1973 and has been vacant for more than a decade, is encased in thick concrete, making it structurally sound. Officials say it has updated systems and had a recent roof replacement and waterproofing.
The building has more than 6,000 square feet of space which can be configured to suit the township’s needs at a cost that has been factored into the purchase price, and could also be made ADA accessible with an elevator that would be installed to reach a basement community room. Additionally, the building has the Western Reserve aesthetic of the current Town Hall, officials say.
Township officials say the levy is necessary because there is little discretionary funding, with 83 percent of revenue from various tax levies earmarked for specific purposes, such as roads, policing, fire and EMS.
Local liquor option also on ballot
Issue 4 is a proposed local option that would allow South End Tavern, 7830 Olde Eight Road, to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.