Town considers options for municipal building
At the June 1 Morgan County Commission meeting, the Town of Bath again expressed interest in having office space in the new Morgan County Courthouse. They also indicated that they were looking at other options.
Town councilman and finance
committee officer David Crosby
apologized to the commissioners
for the town not having a decision ready on whether they wanted to be included in the County Courthouse building or not.
Crosby said the proposed office space they were requesting in the courthouse was 2,500 square feet. It would house both town personnel and police officers. At $232 a square foot, their cost for the space would amount to about $580,000.
Stotler noted that the architect had just informed them that the cost of building the courthouse had risen to $250 a square foot since the preliminary architectural drawings had been made, purely from the passage of time and "the cost of doing business."
Wants town police included
Crosby made it clear that the town did not want to be separated from its police department. Town Clerk Margie Allgyer said that she works on a daily basis with their police force.
Commission President Glen Stotler and Commissioner Tommy Swaim didn't favor housing town police in the new courthouse. Arrangements had already been made to house the Sheriff's Department at a Morgan County Rescue Service building addition to alleviate congestion.
Preferred close contact
Crosby preferred county and town offices being under one roof so there would be more interaction and cooperation between the two government entities. In his managerial experience, separate quarters resulted in little collaboration.
The Town of Bath would share in the upkeep of the courthouse. They would not want to be a tenant, but would like a co-op situation, said Crosby.
The town would have to look for money to fund their share of the courthouse and there was no guarantee that they would get it, said Crosby. Mayor Susan Webster had been to Charleston and other places seeking funding options. The town was somewhat reluctant to liquidate assets to fund their courthouse space, he said.
They had not heard back yet from Governor Joe Manchin, Allgyer said. She said they hadn't given up on being included in the courthouse, but were exploring all options.
"We'll keep this in mind as we move forward," Stotler said of the courthouse plans.
Another option discussed was locating the town municipal center on the CSX land by the former train depot where construction of a senior center and senior housing unit had been planned.
There are two commercial plots
set aside on that land where the
municipal center could be built, said Stotler. He encouraged town representatives to look into funding for a municipal center to be included at that site.
The original CSX land project had a two-story building with a senior center on the first floor and apartments for seniors on the second floor, said county administrator Bill Clark. The apartments would be income-level senior housing for those still able to live on their own and would not be assisted living, he said.
A rail walking/hiking/biking trail that would possibly extend to U.S. Silica and to town had also been planned for the property, he said.
The Small City Block Grant that the county had applied for is now only available for water and sewer projects, said Clark. The county has no viable funding source for the senior center/senior housing project at this time, but still hopes to find funding, he said.
Town interested in site
The town has expressed an interest in putting their municipal building on part of the property, he said. They will attempt to get state or federal money to help with the construction, said Clark.
There were no specific plans for use of the two plots on the CSX land with commercial potential, said Clark. They were hoping that the commercial properties would offset the cost of building the senior center to the developer, he said.
No construction will occur on the CSX site until an environmental assessment that is in progress concludes, said Clark. They expect to have the environmental study results within a few months. The county has a verbal commitment to buy the land from CSX when it is ready.
Clark also said that CSX Corporation might erect a fence at the site because of parking problems.