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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

Bowling Green recruits residents in crafting plan for City Hall

The Bowling Green City Hall was built more than 100 years ago. The Bowling Green City Hall was built more than 100 years ago.
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BOWLING GREEN - Rita Eckert and Sharon Stratmann looked around the second floor at City Hall and listened as Bill Blair told them how he'd like to hire another city engineer but has no place to put another desk.

The public works director showed them the air purifiers installed after a nasty mold problem was abated recently in the 100-plus-year-old building, and he told them how his employees freeze in the winter and overheat in the summer. Workers on the third floor have the opposite problem.

"We definitely have a problem with heating and cooling in this building," Mr. Blair said.

The two women were among a dozen residents who took the opportunity to tour City Hall last night and give their opinions on

what the city ought to do to address the problems.

Bob Kreienkamp, co-chairman of the ad hoc committee appointed by Mayor John Quinn to make a recommendation to council about City Hall, said the committee will continue to solicit public opinion as its research progresses.

From last night's comments, it was clear that convincing residents the city needs new and bigger office space won't be as difficult as getting everyone to agree on the best location for those offices.

Local business owner Bud Henschen said the city ought to look at the vacant Churchill's or Food Town stores on South Main Street. The sites are attractive, he said, because of the ample parking, one-floor accessibility, proximity to the U.S. 6 bypass, and the potential to attract more business to the south side of town.

He said he would hate to see the city build a big new office complex and then be hard-pressed to find the money to operate it.

"You can't just keep hitting the taxpayers," Mr. Henschen said.

Rick Metz, a local home builder and developer, said city leaders ought to look ahead 50 years and create a City Hall that would be "the focal point of downtown." He used the analogy of Sky Bank, which carved out a city block for its headquarters, tore down the old houses behind it, and created an attractive rear parking lot.

City Prosecutor Matt Reger suggested the city collaborate with another organization - a county agency or even the post office - to create a downtown office building with multiple functions.

Ms. Stratmann said she favored using one of the vacant retail stores on South Main because of parking and traffic concerns.

"Convenience tells me go south," she said.

Municipal Administrator John Fawcett said he expects to have the results of a space and use study of City Hall that was done by SSOE Inc., of Toledo to the committee by its next meeting July 1.

"I've been told preliminarily that the study shows that what space we need is more than what we have," he said. "I don't think that came as a surprise to any of the people who work in this building."

To get an idea of what other area communities have done, committee members have toured new and renovated city buildings in Port Clinton, Norwalk, Bryan, Maumee, and Sylvania.



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