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Published: Wednesday, 7/27/2005

Bedford Township hall too small

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bedford Township Supervisor Walt Wilburn would like to renovate or replace the hall to improve services and save money. Bedford Township Supervisor Walt Wilburn would like to renovate or replace the hall to improve services and save money.
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TEMPERANCE - He's only been on the job for eight months, but it didn't take Bedford Township Supervisor Walt Wilburn that long to see the, um, deficiencies of the township's 1960s-era township hall.

"It's too small. People are sitting on top of one another. There's not enough room, not enough storage room. It's not energy-efficient. It's a poor layout. And when it rains, you can't hear what's going on in the boardroom," Mr. Wilburn said last week.

By recently commissioning a preliminary engineering study on the township hall, Mr. Wilburn has reopened a debate that has long simmered among township board members - a debate that says the township's central facilities have failed to keep up with the growth of Monroe County's largest municipality.

"We've just outgrown [the township hall], pretty much," Mr. Wilburn said. And the engineering estimate to alleviate at least some of the building's problems pegs the price for those upgrades at about $1.8 million.

Built in 1966, the township hall on Jackman Road is a "U" shaped brick building of about 5,900-square feet, a large portion of which includes the mostly-empty township board room and a long hallway.

The U-shaped township hall was built in 1966, when Bedford had a much lower poulation. The U-shaped township hall was built in 1966, when Bedford had a much lower poulation.
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The hall was built at a time when the population of Toledo's largest suburb was less than a third of today's estimated 30,000 residents. It has single-pane glass windows that regularly leak and sweat, depending on the outside weather; a flat roof that acts as a sort of "timpani drum" when it rains, and - until very recently - a heating and cooling system that didn't work properly.

The upgrades envisioned by architect Mike Hammond in his $1.8 million estimate would be an expansion of the building to about 15,000-square-feet, the addition of an insulated pitched roof system, and energy efficient upgrades like new windows and doors.

The upgrades are almost identical to those envisioned several times before since 1998 when past officials considered upgrading the Bedford Township Hall. Those estimates were lower at the time and a plan in 2001 to have the township share facilities with Monroe County's plan for a south county "branch courthouse" died a quick death when the state's economy tanked.

All the while, however, the township has continued socking money away during almost every budget cycle for what they felt would be the eventual day when the township hall would have to be fixed up or replaced.

Bedford Township Budget Director Andy Gurecki said the township hall account has a balance of $1 million, and that the board stopped contributing to the fund last year after reaching that milestone "until they decide which direction they're going to head."

In each of the previous times that the township has studied the question, it has also considered whether it would be cheaper or more efficient to build another facility on the same land or to buy an unrelated property and convert it for their use.

At one point in 2002, board members studied whether to buy Crossroads Community Church on Temperance Road and convert it into a new township hall. But that was dropped when a study estimated that the township would have to spend about $2 million to covert that facility to its uses.

Mr. Wilburn said moving the township's central office continues to be an option on the table today, although he declined to identify the specific buildings in the township being looked at.

"The township has looked at other buildings in the past, and continues to do so," Mr. Wilburn said.



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