Contract introduced for future city hall options

Paducah City Hall advisers say renovating or rebuilding City Hall requires a more comprehensive set of engineering and design services. That’s why the city commission introduced a contract Tuesday night with the design firm Ratio.

The up to $1.6 million contract will design renovating and rebuilding City Hall. The design could also cost less if the city scraps repairing this building and goes with a new building. Ratio says the finished product could cost $17.8 million.

Commissioner Sandra Wilson expressed a lot of resistance about moving forward.

“To have to spend money right now on City Hall when I feel there are so many other needs we should be spending it on,” Wilson said.

Engineers tell commissioners the current building needs stabilization work. They also say it’s not a matter of if but when the concrete roof canopy caves in. Commissioner Carol Gault says it’s important to see both options because many people want to preserve the over 50-year-old building.

“We had so many constituents coming forth asking to save this building. The petition started going around, and it would be an injustice to the taxpayers not to look at both, compare the costs,” Gault said.

Gault, who is also on the City Hall advisory board, says fixing specific issues would add relocation costs and prevent them from saving if they built a more energy efficient City Hall.

“If you start to piecemeal and you look at that cost, it just doesn’t make sense”, Gault said.

Once the project starts rolling, the design firm plans to offer public workshops to discuss both options within the first five weeks. Whichever option the city’s chooses, they plan to have it finished by spring of 2018.

The City Hall advisory committee also looked at three other options from Brandstetter and Carol, Inc.; Murphy Graves & Trimble, Inc.; and RBS Design Group Architecture.

Gault says what makes Ratio best is that the company meets their needs of designing both options.

“They talked a lot about public input. They’ve done a lot of public buildings. They’ve done preservation projects. They have a lot of new building experience,” Gault said.

Commissioner Allan Rhodes added that Ratio had the best presentation, was the most organized, and that the firm’s core is rehabilitation of historical structures.

He says projects like these are based more on talent than price. Rhodes says typically design firms charge a similar percentage of the construction project’s cost.

Ratio also designed Schultz Park improvements for the riverfront development project. Commissioners plan to vote on the contract next week.

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