$4M renovation project aims to make aging Clark County buildings safer

Clark County commissioners have approved a contract with a design firm to begin work on a $4 million to $5 million project to renovate county buildings.

Commissioners agreed last week to pay Hardlines Design Co. and Ohio Corp. nearly $600,000 for design services as part of a project to upgrade the Clark County Department of Job and Family Services, A.B. Graham, juvenile detention, and common pleas court buildings, as well as upgrade security systems at county properties.

Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said the plans call for converting outdoor space at the juvenile detention facility to indoor, multipurpose space.

In addition, renovations are needed for the DJFS building because pieces of concrete on the outside walls of the Lagonda building are falling off. The A.B. Graham and Clark County Common Pleas Court buildings don’t have central air, operate with a hot water boiler system and have no fire suppression system, Kennedy said.

The fire suppression system of the courthouse consists of fire hoses and fire extinguishers, he said.

“There’s no sprinkler system, no smoke heads, no alarm system that I’m aware of … You have a building that is well over 100 years old with a tons and tons of paper in it,” Kennedy said. “It has wiring that’s old and an electrical panel that’s not able to support the wiring that’s there … That’s probably not a good idea.”

The upgrades will make the facilities safer, Kennedy said, and extend the life of the buildings.

The projects will be paid for using money from the county’s general fund, including revenue from the county’s half percent sales tax.

“We said back when we put the half-percent sales tax on, the purpose of putting it on was to renovate these old buildings, upgrade security and that’s what we’re doing,” Kennedy said

“We’re doing what we said we were going to do,” he added.

Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said he is excited about the renovations.

Renovating the courthouse and A.B. Graham buildings has been discussed for years, he said, but commissioners didn’t have plans to finance the projects.

They can now afford to correct problems with the buildings, Detrick said.

“We’re now able to address buildings that have been neglected and future generations will benefit from our proactive maintenance program,” Detrick said.

That will make the properties safer for the public and county employees, he said.

The upgrades will also make the courthouse and A.B. Graham buildings more energy efficient, Clark County Commissioner David Herier said, and are expected to save the county money.

“Replacing electrical panels and wiring and bringing a modern fire suppression system to those buildings are all just safety concerns that are to the point where they need to be addressed,” Herier said. “The upgrades are hopefully going to … be able to have some cost savings and efficiency due to the modern heating and air conditioning.”

Kennedy said the top floor of the Springview Government Center on East Main Street could be renovated and used as “swing space” to house employees during renovations if the budget permits.