As part of the Mayor’s Corner, my goal is to highlight the work and perspectives of the leadership team here at City Hall.
In this update, our City Administrator, Mark Bethune is going to cover in greater detail an issue (facilities planning) I briefly brought up a couple of weeks ago in another Mayor’s Report article.
Mark Bethune, City Administrator
In 2015, the Fire District indicated to the City of Orting that they needed larger facilities.
Originally the city built the fire service portion of the public safety building for a smaller, city-staffed, department. Through an election, the citizens of Orting voted to join the district, and we were annexed in 2008.
Today, the Fire District (OVFR) has a much more significant territory and higher staffing needs.
A City and a Fire District Working Together
When OVFR approached the City of Orting in 2015 to discuss to discuss their facility challenges, the wheel was set in motion that would eventually result in them purchasing the entire public safety building. The City agreed in late 2015 to sell them the public safety building, and the sale officially occurred January 2nd, 2018.
At this point, the City has a lease to keep its police and court at the building until as late as 2020. However, in 2017, the City hired an architect firm, Helix, to make recommendations for acquisition, location, and proposals for a new police station and court facilities. Helix was also directed to look at what it would take to bring the old City Hall up to current building code. The old city hall has portions built in 1925, 1947 and 1975.
A Community Approach to Facilities Use and Planning
A city and citizen committee was established in 2016 to make recommendations for new facilities, or facilities improvements, to the Council. One of their strong suggestions was to keep City Hall and the Orting Police Department in the historic downtown central area.
Two primary locations were put forward by this citizens committee for future facilities development. Helix studied these sites in greater detail and recommended the McMahon property that has the old feed store at the corner adjacent to the south end of the central park area. You may also recognize this building as the former attorney office that is adjacent to the current public safety building. The City purchased this property in December 2017.
Concerns About The Current City Hall
Helix determined that to bring the old City Hall up to code was almost as much as building a new facility and that the best investment for the City was to build new.
The overall cost of police, court, council and court chambers and city hall is estimated at $6.5 million. The City has saved up about $3.5 million to put down but would have to borrow the rest of the funds and find a way to pay off the debt.
Do You Have Input? We Would Love to Hear From You!
With Council approval, this project could begin as early as late 2018 or 2019.
There will be extensive public meetings throughout the upcoming year, including an open house in the next few months to get citizen feedback on this plan.