Design/build contractor sought for Northfield Center Township safety facility

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO
This preliminary sketch of the proposed Northfield Center Township Hall/safety building was accepted by township trustees Nov. 23. The red shows fire department space, the blue is quarters for the Summit County Sheriff’s Department and the gray is for township administrative offices.

NORTHFIELD CENTER – The township is moving on to the next step in the process of building a new Township Hall/safety facility by seeking qualifications for a design/build contractor.

Trustees OK’d seeking qualifications Nov. 23 after criteria architect the Thrasher Group presented preliminary drawings for a proposed 10,053-square-foot building to be erected at the service department’s current garage and cold storage facility on Olde Eight Road.

Josh Lyons of the Thrasher Group, which has its nearest offices in Canton, outlined the preliminary plans for the estimated $1.25 million building. Trustees had awarded a contract worth $14,900 to the firm in July.

Lyons said initial plans call for a building with 7,590 square feet devoted to the fire department, 1,611 square feet for township administrative offices and 900 square feet for Summit County Sheriff’s Department operations.

The township is looking to replace the current 100-plus-year-old Township Hall on Brandywine Road and adjacent fire station at 60 W. Aurora Road, the latter of which has fallen into disrepair. The proposed new site encompasses 4.26 acres.

The service department staff has completed grading work to prepare the eastern portion of the Olde Eight Road site for the proposed building, and soil testing also has been completed.

The building will have a full complement of offices, recreation area, kitchen, apparatus bays, sleeping quarters, restrooms, a multi-purpose room and laundry. Trustees favor a design/build delivery method, and the Thrasher Group will aid them in selecting the design/build team.

“I like the layout; I think this new building will be a great asset to the township,” said Service Director Rick Youel, who noted Thrasher’s layout could change slightly. “The project is off to a great start, and this facility should serve the township well.”

Trustee Russ Mazzola said the township’s financial adviser has recommended that the best method of financing the project is through a bank, with a loan being paid off over 15 years. He added the interest rate is expected to be just under 2 percent.

Mazzola said the township also could lease the building through the Summit County Port Authority, but that process would involve a lot of extra fees and legal issues.

Township Administrator Helen Humphrys said the requests for qualifications are due Dec. 14, and trustees likely will select a design/build firm and award a contract in February. “That would allow for groundbreaking hopefully in April,” she noted.

Mazzola extended thanks to all township and outside entities who have worked on the project. “A lot of effort has gone into this,” he said. “It’s been a great team effort, and is an example of many people and groups working together.”

In the only other action at the trustees’ Nov. 23 session, they approved the purchase of 800 MHz radio equipment from Motorola Solutions at a cost of $21,293. The money will come from the fire/EMS fund.

The equipment is needed to link up with Macedonia’s recent $608,000 radio system/dispatching upgrade since the township contracts with the city’s fire department for fire/EMS services.

Macedonia Fire Chief Brian Ripley said the township’s current radio equipment will be retained and can be used as a backup if the new system is out of service temporarily.

“Our fire department is switching to the new radio system to eliminate communications blind spots and communicate more efficiently with nearby safety agencies,” he said. “Almost all of our neighbors have gone to 800 MHz systems.”

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