Liberty Twp. will demolish former office to build new one

Liberty Twp. officials are moving forward with a $13 million facilities plan now that final decisions for a new administration building have been made.

The township plans to tear down its building on Princeton Road and construct a new 15,420-square-foot building to house administrative offices and the sheriff’s outpost. Township Administrator Kristen Bitonte estimated the new building will cost about $5.2 million and there is room to expand if needed on the 3.6-acre site. The plan is to sell general fund-backed bonds to pay for the project, she said.

“It can be overwhelming, because you’re thinking this is not just a five-year project this is like a 50-year project so let’s make sure we do it right,” Bitonte said of making decisions for the fast-growing township.

RELATED: Liberty Twp. embarking on $10 to $11 million facilities plan

Trustees originally considered buying out the rest of complex where they rent space now on Liberty Centre Drive. But they couldn’t come to terms with their landlord.

“I think this works out better for us in the end,” Bitonte said. “We were able to kind of create our own space, plan for our own future and really kind of take that all into account.”

The plan is to put the project out for bids in January and start demolition and construction in March.

In the township where the population has quadrupled over the past two decades to around 40,000, and with future growth a certainty, trustees are trying to make long-term plans to right-size their facilities. A couple years ago they settled on a facilities plan that included the administration building and rebuilding the fire station and adding space for the service department located at Yankee Road and Stumpf Lane, near the Lakota school bus depot.

The long term plan also included the need for a fourth fire station and the township paid $384,000 for a parcel on Cincinnati Dayton Road north of Millikin Road several years ago for that purpose.

Recently officials announced they are changing that course of action with the $550,000 purchase of a five acre parcel near the intersection of Cincinnati Dayton and Princeton roads. The township plans to relocate the Yankee Road station — that was built in 1974 and was never intended to house full-time staff — and this central location can better serve the northeast section of the township, plus should eliminate the need for a fourth station.

Some neighbors have worried about locating a fire station in a neighborhood — sound, lights and trucks traveling in the neighborhood. Officials say the truck sirens are rarely sounded unless it is during rush hour and the access will be on Princeton Road, not through the neighborhood unless of course there is a fire there. Officials have said the station will be built according to the township’s strictest zoning guidelines for buffers and the like.

MORE: New Liberty Twp. fire station could cut response times, save money

Trustee Steve Schramm estimated a potential cost savings of $2 million to $3 million, realized by only building one station instead of two. Fire Chief Ethan Klussman agreed it could be that much, but said he doesn’t have a “crystal ball.”

“If we can build one station, at the right size for the future, versus building that next station it could be $3 million,” Klussman told the Journal-News. “But I don’t know that I could put a good number to it, because you just don’t know what it’s going to cost in 10 or 15 years to build, it could double.”

Early construction estimates on the new station are $2 million to $5 million, according to Trustee Christine Matacic, who said since they will be moving everything from the Yankee Road location, construction will be the lion’s share of the cost.

The township is in a 120-day due diligence period now, before the property purchase is final. Construction is anticipated to begin late next year.

LEARN MORE: About the new fire station plans on the township’s website

As for the rest of the master facilities plan, the new $2.1 million service garage is now open on Yankee Road.

Trustee Board President Tom Farrell said he is glad their facilities plan is coming to fruition.

“There’s a lot of work to do to actually get them built and functional,” he said. “We’re not just excited I think we’re ecstatic… now we can focus on the sustainability of the township and the infrastructure and not our own buildings that service the residents.”

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