Anamosa

In presenting their preliminary findings on rehabilitating the old Daly Creek Winery into the city’s new police station, representatives from Shive-Hattery, Inc. Architecture and Engineering placed a price tag well above the initial estimates the city had come up with.

The search for a new building came after concerns expressed about the state of the current police station, which is too small to meet the needs of the departments and has moisture concerns, including a leaking roof and flooding in the basement.

When initially discussing the purchase, before a petition forced the issue onto the ballot if the city were to continue down their path, City Administrator Jacob Sheridan had estimated a cost of around $700,000. The number presented by Michael Lewis, who has 23 years of experience in developing plans for law enforcement facilities, was much higher, with an estimated cost of $2.125 million.

The major problem with the current building was the electrical and mechanical infrastructure in the building’s basement was unsalvageable, with an estimated cost alone of more than $500,000. The total cost of the building renovation, not including the cost of the building purchase itself, came in at $1.625 million.

The structure itself was sound, but other costs included in the renovations were window replacements and patching work. The other major cost was work that needed to be done to even out the floor, especially to the west, where floors were sloped down to drains.

Though the price tag was steep, Lewis stated that it was still significantly cheaper than building new. A building of the same size would cost nearly $4 million. A building that fit their space needs, approximately 6,500 square feet as opposed to the winery’s 8,300, came in at around $3.24 million.

At a estimated price tag of $182 per square feet for the renovation, the cost was considerably lower than the $380 per square feet that was estimated if the city decided to start in on a new building next year. It also, Lewis said, stayed below a key threshold.

“If renovation is 70 percent of new, my advice is go do new. You’re below 70 percent…significantly,” he said. “It seems like a decent investment to me.”

Despite the higher than expected price tag, elected officials expressed a desire to keep things moving forward with renovation. Mayor Dale Barnes expressed his opinion that this was the way to go and neither Council Member Betty Weimer nor Council Member Cody Shaffer felt building a new facility made sense.

“It always costs more than anybody wants to spend,” Shaffer said.

During discussion, there was talk about possibly making the basement area available for use as a shelter, which was not included with the cost estimate, and the idea was once again broached about looking into a joint site. Sheridan said there wasn’t as much room as their appeared by the fire station and it would add to the cost of the project. Despite the high cost of the police station, Sheridan still felt the cost of the fire station expansion could remain under $700,000.

When deciding whether to put the language for a bond vote to be held March 3, there was interest in moving ahead. Council Member Rod Smith, and mayor-elect, said he believed the next council should be the one’s to make that decision. His fellow council members disagreed, saying that since the matter had to go to a public vote, the public would be the ones to make that decision. In a unanimous vote, it was approved to have the language up for a vote at the next meeting, which was rescheduled for Dec. 19.

The next step after approving the bond language, which would likely include the high end of the estimate at $2.2 million, Lewis said, would be to hold a couple of public meetings to educate the public on the proposal.

In order to make the March 3 election, the language for the bond vote must be approved for the ballot by the middle of January. If nothing is approved by then, the next date for a special election would not be until September. For every year the project was delayed, Lewis estimated a 4 percent increase in construction costs.

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