Liberty Twp. facilities plan estimated at nearly $11 million

Liberty Twp. trustees are honing in on long-range facilities plans after narrowing a host of options for the administration offices, police, fire station 112 and their service garage down to two, for roughly $10 million to $11 million.

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. The board focused on two options during a work session Tuesday evening.

The first is to ask their current landlord if they can buy the entire building where their administration offices and sheriff’s post are located on Liberty Centre Drive.

Trustee Tom Farrell, who initially lobbied for one combined facility for all four departments, said he doesn’t think the landlord will want to sell outright at this juncture, but perhaps their monthly $8,035 lease payments could be put toward the purchase price for the remainder of the five-year lease.

“Buying the building, it’s the most fiscally responsible option,” he said. “The question is how do we get to where we want to get and where we need to get. When we’re done with this, I want to make sure we have a plan for all of our facilities, as we set out to do; not, well, we’ll decide this one later.”

The township moved into the leased space last summer because they were running out of room and there were issues with the old building on Princeton Road. Farrell estimated it would cost no more than $1.5 million to buy the office building and renovate the old administration building to be used for meeting space. The building was purchased for $865,000 in 2012, and the county auditor has it valued at $882,000, according to Farrell.

Township Administrator Kristen Bitonte said if they can negotiate a sale with the landlord, they expect sometime in the future, even with the space from the two other tenants in the condo building, they will need to add onto the building or find another site, such as the old administration building, for meetings. The meeting space would not only be for the trustees but the community.

The other piece of the facilities plan puzzle was the need to rebuild the fire station and add space for the service department located at 6957 Yankee Road. The trustees plan to tear down the old firehouse and build anew, add office space to the service building and construct a new storage building on the site. Farther down the road the township will need a fourth fire station, and they have already purchased land for that on Cincinnati-Dayton Road. The trustees selected the option that has a very preliminary price tag of $9.3 million to $10.1 million.

Along with negotiating to buy the current administration center, Bitonte will start researching how to finance the facilities plan. A levy will likely be a piece of the funding pie.

Farrell initially fought for the option of housing all four of the departments under one roof, with shared common areas. However, others said the different departments don’t mix very well.

“I feel like the service sector is just diametrically different, it’s a dust bowl, you live in the dirt, it’s a different world,” Trustee Steve Schramm said, directing his comments to Services Director Rick Plummer. “So I struggle with putting those altogether.”

The rough estimate for combined facilities was $14.6 million to $16.3 million.

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