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New Oak Creek Civic Center designed for efficiency

City Hall, library and fire station to break ground

May 27, 2014

Oak Creek — City Hall has not changed much since it took occupancy on South Howell Avenue in 1964.

But since the common council accepted a bid to construct the new two-story Civic Center, which will include the public library, at the Drexel Town Square development on West Drexel and South Howell avenues, the new building is slated for efficiency.

At 98,500 total square feet, the new city hall and library will be strategically constructed under one roof — first, to save money; second, to work with each other.

Jill Lininger, library director, said a multi-purpose room will be located right across from the council chambers, which will seat 150, and can hold overflow from meetings. There will also be conference rooms reserved for city employees during the day that will be available to the community at night.

And forget having to visit multiple desks in City Hall to get questions answered on engineering, community development and the like. All questions will be answered from one central counter, as staff will be cross-trained to answer residents' questions, said Gerald Peterson, city administrator.

The council accepted a bid May 20, from Corporate Contractors, based in Beloit, to construct the new city hall, public library and fire station. Eight total submissions were reviewed anonymously, so the decision was merit-based. Corporate Contractors submitted a bid for about $4.5 million for the fire station and $18.5 million for the Civic Center.

The new Fire Station No. 1 will be built on East Centennial Drive just east of South Howell Avenue.

"I think that everybody's really excited that the contract's been awarded and that we're moving forward with it; it's been a long time coming," Lininger said.

Ground will begin to break as soon as Corporate Contractors has its contracts in place, which could be in the next 10 days, Peterson said.

With construction, the library will be transformed from a "book warehouse" to a "lifelong learning center," Lininger said. The original library was built in 1972 and lacks both the community space and technology necessary to operate as a modern library.

The library currently has 13 Internet computers but is planned to house a media lab with Macs, scanners, microphones, a green screen and software to convert a record collection to digital music files, for example.

Two new areas dedicated to young adults and kids will also be constructed, based on survey feedback and other library tours.

The recreation department will also operate out of the new library since the two entities have a similar mission and client base, Lininger added.

"I hope that (citizens) feel like it's a building that was built for them with their needs and interests in mind," she said.

The proposed fire station will also increase performance. Living quarters will be built as close to the fire apparatus as possible to "operationally make the response the most efficient as possible," said Fire Chief Tom Rosandich.

The fire station will be located across from the U.S. Post Office and will store fire engines, ambulances and a ladder truck that cannot fit in other current dispatch locations.

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