Liberty Township is a step closer to building a new administrative facility, as well as new Parks Department and Roads Services Department facilities. During Monday’s meeting of the township trustees, a contract was approved with McCall Sharp Architecture to design the new facilities.
Prior to entering into the contract, Liberty Township scored all proposals from firms based on their qualifications, and Springfield, Ohio-based McCall Sharp received the highest score.
“This contract, if approved, will then take (the firm) from beginning construction documents and probable estimate for bidding,” Trustee Bryan Newell said of the contract. “That number that he produces at the end of the process will be what we weigh the contractor bids against if we go to that step.”
Liberty Township Fiscal Officer Rick Karr said he sees the process as “on track to get to the end,” and he told The Gazette that “office space and new township hall/community meeting room space is included” in the plans for the new administrative facility.
“We also added restrooms that will have outdoor access for those using South Liberty Park or if there are games and events in South Liberty Park,” Karr added.
Currently, the Liberty Township Hall and John Bernans Fire Station 321 share the same facility on Liberty Road, which isn’t ideal, especially after the events of the past year.
“There is also the need with the pandemic to separate Fire Station 321 and the meeting space located there,” Karr said.
Trustee Mike Gemperline posed the question of whether or not the township has the funds to pay for the new buildings. In response to the question, Karr stated, “We can certainly present different scenarios based on the projected cost, but we’ve looked at our general fund and the roads fund and there is funding each year through those dollars that can be devoted to paying for this project.”
Newell added that Delaware County has set up a loan fund for townships to utilize money for improvement projects such as what is being proposed by Liberty Township. The loans are to be paid back over the course of 10 years at an interest rate of 1.75%, and Newell said there is enough extra money to repay the loan.
“We’re not going to have to raise anybody’s taxes to do this,” Newell went on to say. “This is something that we can do inside of our existing funds.”
Asked by Gemperline if the township will be able to pay off the buildings within the 10-year period, Newell expressed confidence in their ability to do so, with Karr adding, “As long as there are no strings attached with the funds that cause us an issue.”
Responding to a question from Gemperline about how dipping into the roads fund for the project might stress that fund, Karr said the roads buildings “aren’t a significant cost factor,” and that between the roads fund, revenue from the gas tax, and other funds, “We should be just fine.”
Newell pointed to the county’s loan program as critical to making the projects possible, saying he and Karr agreed from the beginning discussions that the projects would not be pursued if they required any sort of levy or tax increase to residents.
“Luckily, with the low interest rate and the efficient design that we have come up with, this is a very reasonable option,” Newell said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.