Six of the seven Xenia City Council members want more information before making any decision on a contract with architects to explore the renovation of the Simon Kenton school into a city administrative center.
While several said the architects’ study might give them the information they needed, council member Dale Louderback said he already had made his decision.
“I am not in favor of any renovation or new construction … I don’t want to spend a dime of the people’s money.”
The city has been looking for several years at several options to ease the crowding at City Hall, which was last renovated more than 30 years ago. The current discussion entails renovating Simon Kenton and moving the city’s administrative offices there. The first floor of City Hall also would be renovated and the Police Department moved out of the cramped basement to the first floor.
Rough estimates place the cost at around $3.2 million. The council is considering a $255,149 contract with APP Architecture of Englewood to assess the space needs, and produce renovation plans and costs for Simon Kenton and the City Halls’ first floor.
“The (architects’) report is the only way to give us the information we need,” Mayor Marsha Bayless said.
During discussions last week, council member John Caupp and Louderback questioned the wisdom of renovating the elementary school that was abandoned by the school district in favor of constructing new schools. They suggested demolishing a new city facility might be cheaper and a better alternative.
Louderback was adamant Thursday he no longer saw either option acceptable. “I don’t see a need. We have survived (in City Hall) for years. … I don’t see a need.”
Caupp said he still had questions but “I understand we have a need. The space for the Police Department is by no means adequate.” Caupp said before he committed money to the study and plans, he wanted to visit some of the architects’ similar projects in Englewood — the Government Center and the Miami Valley CTC.
City Manager Jim Percival said he would make arrangements for council members to visit the sites.
Several council members said they would not support demolition.
The school district is giving the school and 11 acres to the city.
“We need to look to the future. … This is a huge space that could be crucial to the future of the city,” council member Jeanne Mills said. “I feel like I need the architects’ report to make a wise decision.”
Any renovation would be funded by the sale of city bonds. Payments on those bonds — estimated at roughly $230,000 annually — would come from the capital improvement project fund, and water and sewer funds, according to city staff.