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Township Looks At Proposed Building Expansion

SANATOGA PA – A proposal to expand the Lower Pottsgrove municipal building on Buchert Road would almost double its size and provide plenty of room for the township’s growing police department and a new public meeting area. The plan contains a lot to like, the Board of Commissioners generally agrees.

lower pottsgrove township: Township Looks At Proposed Building Expansion

Donald Wirt discusses the floor plan with commissioners during their June 8 meeting

Board members aren’t yet ready, though, to commit to construction that could cost $2 million or more. Instead, they openly hope someone else will tackle the project for them.

Architect Donald Wirt of Noelker and Hull Associates, with offices in Sanatoga, returned this month to the board with a building expansion feasibility study it ordered last December (2014), and offered tentative floor plans and designs that provided what he called “a few options to grow.” They add a wing to the existing building’s west side, consuming what is now a parking lot close to the front entrance.

The proposal, Wirt said:

  • Offers more space to the police department “in all areas for its day-to-day operations;”
  • “Creates new circulation patterns for public interaction,” allowing people to easily reach departments and staff they need most, but also increases building security;
  • Tackles deferred maintenance problems that have gone unfixed for years;
  • Increases “badly needed storage space;”
  • Doubles the size of the board meeting room, allowing for an audience of up to 75 people; and
  • Returns the tax collector’s office to the municipal building, which would eliminate the need for separate office space on East High Street.
lower pottsgrove township: Township Looks At Proposed Building Expansion

A tentative floor plan for the proposed west side expansion of the municipal building, dedicated to the police department

Moreover, the architect said, Lower Pottsgrove could continue operations in the existing building while an expansion proceeded in phases. Wirt believes “a major advantage is the continued use.”

Wirt arrived at the building’s $2 million construction-only cost using an estimated $240 to $250 per square foot under prevailing wage contracts for the added floor space. That probably would not be the entire price, he noted; furniture, financing, soft costs like planning and regulatory fees, some refurbishing in the existing building and other expenses might raise it to as much as $4 million.

Board Vice President Stephen Klotz, himself a former general contractor, said he hoped prevailing wages – generally, those paid to workers under organized labor contracts – wouldn’t be necessary. If a developer could be convinced to erect a new municipal building as part of a larger project, Klotz said, the township could purchase or lease the structure and avoid higher labor costs that would accompany contracting for the construction itself.

“It’s a question of expanding here (at the 2199 Buchert Rd. site), or whether we do it elsewhere,” Klotz said. “At least we know it’s feasible to expand here, and I certainly like this proposal much better” than one the board saw in 2007, he added. His colleagues nodded in agreement.

The current building is about 25 years old.

lower pottsgrove township: Township Looks At Proposed Building ExpansionRelated (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ June 8 meeting):

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