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Oak Creek gets a peek at new city hall and library

Aldermen's questions, concerns addressed by architects

Feb. 19, 2013

The Oak Creek Common Council got a glimpse at what the inside of the proposed city hall and library's common areas will look like at the Monday meeting.

Bray Architects' Matt Wolfert unveiled floor plans for the shared common space, which would include the common council chambers, several meeting rooms and a counter for city-to-resident transactions. The second floor would comprised open seating, a shared break room and outdoor terraces.

While Wolfert was sharing the plans, water dripped in front of him due to the city hall's leaking pipes.

"I'm not used to water dripping during a meeting," he said.

"You think we need a new city hall?" Dan Bukiewicz asked.

The exterior of the proposed city hall/library shared building, which is to be located at the south end of the town square, was presented as being largely made of glass walls with stone supports.

The plans changed a bit due to a slight western shift of Main Street. The shift would put the main entrance just to the east of Main Street as opposed to hitting the street square on in previous plans.

Questions and concerns

Aldermen barraged Wolfert with questions raised by their constituents during Feb. 11's Drexel Town Square informational meeting. Parking issues, security, handicap accessibility and sustainability were brought before Wolfert.

Alderman Dan Jakubczyk brought up concerns about a lack of parking around the building for special events. The current plan calls for two-rowed parking along the southeast and southern sides with street parking along the northern and western sides of the building.

"It looks, because the parking is spread around the building, a little small, but we feel like there are a good number of parking spots," Wolfert said.

Security issues were brought up by Jakubczyk shortly after.

"We're planning on creating a secure zone for the public transaction counter," Wolfert said. "All city business that comes will be treated at that location. If they need to meet with Doug (Seymour) or Gerry (Anderson), they will be taken to a private meeting room in city hall as well."

The new city hall would be ringed with three-foot steps along the south and north entrances. Alderman Thomas Michalski asked if the plans would allow for handicap-accessible ramps. While they weren't in the graphics, Wolfert said that the plans were to comply with Americans with Disability Act guidelines on both sides.

Concerns of maintenance and cleaning of the large amounts of glass were brought up by Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi.

While Bray Architects doesn't have the plans fully fleshed out, Wolfert said, they'll be balancing initial costs with maintenance costs.

Sustainability and interactivity

Due to the high amounts of exterior glass, Bukiewicz asked about the possibilities of solar energy or even a green roof.

Wolfert stated that Bray Architects will be working with an energy consultant to analyze the possibility of solar energy. He went on to add that the firm will be conducting a geothermal conductivity test within roughly two weeks. The test would consist of drilling a 450 footwell to measure soil conductivity.

City Administer Gerald Peterson chimed in, stating that a geothermal project could cost the city roughly $400,000 but would grant the city a return on its investment within six to seven years.

The lobby would also change the way constituents interact with the city. Plans to install kiosks, electronic substations and ATMs were brought forward. The substations would be areas where residents could use a computer to conduct business, from paying fees, obtaining licenses or looking up city agendas.

Coming up

Residents might be seeing changes to the square in two weeks. Peterson announced a motion that will be coming before council March 5 to remove concrete from the city hall and library site.

"I hate to say this, but I'll believe it when I see it," Jakubczyk said. "First it was November, then it was January and now it's March."

Peterson said that he understood Jakubczyk's reservations and that the setbacks have been due to environmental coordination and a quantity estimation with One West Drexel, who is handling the concrete-removal contract.

The contract has been bid out to seven companies originally and is currently narrowed down to four.

When the contract is awarded, Peterson said the work should take roughly 90 days, with an estimation of completion by the end of June.

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