Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin considers replacing City Hall, other building with new annex

The circular, 80-person-capacity commission chamber in City Hall — built in the 1970s as a library — is too small, forcing some residents to sit outside when controversial topics draw a large crowd. Also, pillars block audience members’ view. 

JIM DAMASKE | Times

The circular, 80-person-capacity commission chamber in City Hall — built in the 1970s as a library — is too small, forcing some residents to sit outside when controversial topics draw a large crowd. Also, pillars block audience members’ view. 

DUNEDIN — The city is exploring plans to replace its aging Municipal Services Building and City Hall with a new $3.1 million government services annex.

Under the proposal, Dunedin would consolidate City Hall, at 542 Main St., and the Municipal Services Building, at 750 Milwaukee Ave., into a two-story structure to be built on an existing parking lot beside a third city-owned building, at 737 Louden Ave. The new structure might be attached to the Louden building, which currently houses the city's law enforcement, economic development and planning departments.

The Municipal Services Building would be torn down and the site converted to a parking lot.

In merging the three city buildings, officials aim to create a "one-stop shop" for citizens seeking permitting, utility billing and other services. The proposal also would address decade-old concerns about deterioration, capacity, handicapped access, security, weather resistance and storage at the Milwaukee building and at City Hall.

The City Commission gave staff the green light this week to bring in a consultant to evaluate the city's building needs. City Manager Rob DiSpirito stressed to commissioners during a workshop Tuesday that plans are "very preliminary" and can be halted at any time.

"We have some buildings that are, to put it kindly, challenged," he said. "By retaining a design professional, it really will help bring some more form to the conversation."

The proposal stems from space needs reports done in 2000 and 2009 that deemed City Hall and the Municipal Services Building among Dunedin's "functionally obsolete" structures.

Both documents recommended merging the Municipal Services Building — which houses Dunedin's city clerk, utility billing, city finance and human resources offices — with City Hall.

In both buildings, officials say, there are roof leaks, faulty ventilation systems, bathrooms or other spaces that can't accommodate wheelchairs, insufficient security, and documents stuffed into "every nook and cranny" because of a lack of storage space. Neither could withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

The circular, 80-person-capacity commission chamber in City Hall — built in the 1970s as a library — is too small, forcing some residents to sit outside when controversial topics draw a large crowd. Pillars block audience members' view. There's no sprinkler system, but there are vermin, including rats and bugs.

Even worse off is the Milwaukee building, which officials describe as being "on its last leg."

Furthermore, the current configuration forces staffers and residents who are doing business in both the Louden and Milwaukee buildings, which back up to each other, to walk outside and around the corner, or to walk several blocks to City Hall.

This isn't the first time commissioners have tried to tackle the problem.

Roughly two years ago, commissioners decided against a new City Hall. Employees were being laid off, so the timing didn't seem right.

One benefit of moving forward now is that with low construction costs and interest rates, the bill for the project would be only about $3.1 million, compared with an estimated cost of $15 million to $18 million five to 10 years ago, officials said. The city also hopes to funnel proceeds from the sale of two properties once envisioned for city government buildings into the new annex's construction.

Most commissioners on Tuesday supported staff spending $500,000 set aside in the 2012 budget to bring in a space planning consultant.

Among the things they want analyzed is whether to remain in the current City Hall, to include space in the proposed annex or to seek a new building altogether, and — if City Hall operations moved — whether to retain or sell the building to get it back on the city tax rolls.

DiSpirito said he'd been in touch with the original architect, whose suggested uses included a library, a community theater performance venue, gallery space for the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, multi-purpose space for the historical society, or even the city's first movie theater.

Vice Mayor Ron Barnette called the possibilities "exciting." With building problems dating back to at least 2000, he said, action is necessary, especially at the Milwaukee building.

"We're working out a plan that, over the long haul, is going to be saving some money," he said.

"We're in great financial shape," said Commissioner David Carson, referencing the city's healthy reserves and budget, "and I don't think there's a better time to build than now."

The proposal met resistance, however, from Commissioner Julie Scales, who said her review of meeting minutes regarding the 2009 space needs analysis showed that just replacing the roof on the Municipal Services Building would be sufficient.

"I think there's a lot of uncertainty as to what the needs are going to be for the city," Scales said. "We are in the worst economy we've been in for years. This is not the time to be building new edifices. I support making the fixes to Municipal Services now, with the idea that in 10 years, the dust will settle, and we can see where we are."

DiSpirito countered that the city has been patching problems at its government buildings for years. A new roof, he said, wouldn't address the Milwaukee building's security, handicapped accessibility, plumbing and electrical problems.

"It goes back to the public," he said. "They're not well-served by these buildings."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153.

Dunedin considers replacing City Hall, other building with new annex 12/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 9, 2011 7:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.