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Published: Wednesday, 9/12/2007

Bedford Twp.'s $2.9M Government Center to open soon

BY BENJAMIN
ALEXANDER-BLOCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The new Government Center hall is symbolic of Bedford Township's continued growth - 35 percent since 1990. The new Government Center hall is symbolic of Bedford Township's continued growth - 35 percent since 1990.
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TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township's new Government Center, replacing its old township hall, will open its doors in a few weeks.

Some officials say its debut may occur with Tuesday's township board meeting, others say early October is more likely.

Most officials agree the building will have cost a little more than $2.9 million when all's said and done. It will stand behind the current township hall on Jackman Road and will have 9,300 square feet, about double the existing hall's size.

The township took $1 million out of its general fund and borrowed $2 million more that will be paid off through 20 annual $130,000 payments.

Supervisor Walt Wilburn said the $1 million was available in the general fund because previous township boards set aside $100,000 a year for 10 years. That means paying off the debt will only increase the township's budget by a net $30,000 annually, Mr. Wilburn said - and that doesn't take into consideration between $15,000 and $20,000 in annual maintenance costs for the old building or energy-efficiency improvements at the new one.

About $350,000 of the $2.9 million was for a new sheriff's substation that will be on the hall's north side.

However you do the math, the new hall is symbolic of the township's continued growth.

The old township hall was built in 1966, when Bedford had 8,000 residents; today the estimated population is 31,930, according to August estimates from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Dennins Jenkins, left, zoning coordinator, and Dennis Steinman, township trustee, examine a classroom in the new structure, which is still under construction. Dennins Jenkins, left, zoning coordinator, and Dennis Steinman, township trustee, examine a classroom in the new structure, which is still under construction.
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The township has grown 35 percent since 1990.

Trustee Dennis Steinman, who has headed up the township hall construction project, said he hopes the new hall will last 80 to 100 years.

If the township were to grow 35 percent every 17 years, it would have nearly 200,000 residents by 2107.

Mr. Steinman said there is room for further expansion. If Monroe County eventually decides to establish county services there, or if the building simply must expand because of township services' growth, additional land behind the new building can be used, he said.

After everyone has moved into Government Center, the old township hall will be razed and the land will be paved as a parking lot. The old sheriff's substation will be spruced up and converted into an indoor parking lot.

The new township hall is a two-story complex with earth-tone walls that is about 300 feet wide. A seal proclaiming Bedford's 1836 founding will greet those who enter.

The clerk, treasurer, assessor, and supervisor's departments will be on the first floor, along with an office for trustees.

There will be a drive-up window open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. where residents can pay water, sewer, and utility bills. A green light will indicate it is open, a red light that it is closed, and there will be an after-hours drop box.

Everything is now handicap-accessible and energy-efficient.

Counters are lowered in certain areas to accommodate wheelchairs.

All the exterior walls are foam-filled, and triple-paned, nonopening windows create a climate-controlled, energy-efficient environment.

The second floor's dramatic feature is a 20-foot atrium skylight that lets natural light filter down into the hall. The upper floor will house the building, planning, zoning, and ordinance enforcement departments, a emergency command center, and board chambers.

The board chambers will have three cameras and high-quality speakers for better audio and broadcasting. There will be a broadcasting booth where the television crew can sit and remotely control the cameras mounted throughout the chamber.

Currently township officials must use the board chambers as a meeting area, but now there will be at least three conference rooms situated throughout the hall, with the possibility of converting some storage areas into additional meeting rooms if needed.

All employees will have security cards to enter the building, with varying levels of access. Level 1 clearance will give full access to all the departments, whereas Level 4 clearance will provide the least access.

Infra-red cameras will line most walls and will act as motion detectors in the evening to activate an alarm system.

The new sheriff's substation will have a forensics department, whose employees will retrieve data from computers that the Monroe County Sheriff's Office has taken into evidence, and a holding cell. Sheriff's employees' lockers will be gender-separated, with 17 for men and five for women.

Mr. Wilburn said the township will hold an open house on a Saturday in early October to show residents what they have paid for.

"People will see that we didn't go overboard, and that we did a good job," he said.

He said there also will be a public auction in October for items that will not be used in the new facility.

Willson Builders of Toledo is the project's contractor. The Poggemeyer Design Group, with offices in Temperance and Bowling Green, is the architect for the project.

Ever since the project broke ground Oct. 7, a Webcam has broadcast the construction in real time on the township's Web site, www.bedfordmi.org/webcam.htm.



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