MADEIRA BEACH — The City Commission faces a big decision Tuesday: whether to move ahead with a new City Hall project by taking nearly $1 million from reserves to pay for architectural plans.
The entire project will cost between $5 million and $9 million, depending upon whether the commission limits the project to just replacing the aging City Hall and fire station or adds a recreation complex and expanded playing fields.
The pending decision comes after more than two years of debate over several different conceptual plans.
What there is no debate about is the need to replace a building first constructed in the 1950s and added onto several times in ensuing decades.
The building is plagued with roof and window leaks, repeated mold infestations, failing air-conditioning systems and even fire hazards in the portion of the building that houses the fire department.
The cost to renovate the existing building is prohibitive, primarily because of federal rules that would prevent the city from spending more than about $400,000 — unless the building is raised above flood level at a cost of millions more.
The actual cost for a new City Hall and separate fire station is now estimated from $5.6 million to $6.2 million, depending on the options selected. Building a recreation complex would cost an estimated $2.6 million more.
This cost could change slightly as plans are finalized. Construction is expected to take about a year.
Current plans call for a 9,500-square-foot City Hall building, an 8,050-square-foot multipurpose building, and a 7,900-square-foot fire station.
The new recreation center includes spaces that could be rented for parties, weddings and other activities, open parkland along the waterfront, a softball field, a Little League field, and a flexible multipurpose field that could be used for softball, Little League or other activities.
Phase 2 has drawn the most reaction from residents, who strongly support or oppose it. A town hall meeting last month featured comments from both camps, with those supporting the new recreation complex in the seeming majority.
In addition to deciding the scope of the project, the commission is expected to authorize the city manager and city attorney to hire a bond counsel, as well as authorize the counsel and city staffer to research and prepare a long-term financing plan for the projects.
Assuming building a new City Hall and fire station is approved, the commission is also expected to authorize spending up to $866,178 for final architectural plans.
That fee would be reduced by about $111,000 if the commission decides to delay plans for the recreation complex.
According the proposal from Wannemacher Jensen Architects, the contracted work will include final floor plan designs, detailed drawings showing exterior elevations and design elements, construction and permit documents with technical specifications, assistance with the bidding process, oversight of actual construction and interior design services.
"We will continue to engage residents and city representatives in the design process of the new buildings and make presentations to the City Commission," said architect Jason Jensen.