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DeKalb City Council to review structure study

Report assesses condition of municipal building

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council is set to review the results of a $60,000 study commissioned to assess the condition of DeKalb’s nearly 50-year-old municipal building.

The 170-page report, completed by Dewberry Architects, lays out the building’s faults, as well as pricing and renovation options. The council will review the report today at its committee of the whole meeting at 5 p.m.

Talks of renovating the building, which was constructed in 1967, have been ongoing since leaders decided to move the DeKalb Police Department to its own building, 5th Ward Alderman Ron Naylor said.

“The building is tired,” he said. “There’s been very little done to it over the years other than some exterior maintenance and redecorating on the inside.”

According to the report, the building remains structurally sound, but there are concerns for safety, accessibility and efficiency that need addressing.

Mold and asbestos both were found in various parts of the building. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were found to use a refrigerant that is scheduled to be phased out in the United States by 2020, and many of the building’s windows aren’t well insulated, Public Works Director T.J. Moore said.

With police moving into their new headquarters at 700 W. Lincoln Highway, there also are security concerns. With police housed in the building, that meant a 24-hour security presence, Moore said.

Funding for any eventual renovations are slated to come from the city’s downtown tax increment financing district, which includes the municipal building, but decreases in property values have cut earmarked funds for the project from $4.5 million to $3.3 million.

Mindful of the possible costs involved and of the importance of the building, Naylor said he was glad to have such a detailed report in front of the council.

“In the past we’ve maybe gotten the cart before the horse,” Naylor said. “In this process we’re approaching it in the correct manner by getting a detailed report on the needs of the staff and the community as a whole.”

City staff is hopeful that a renovation would allow for the city’s public works and information technology workers to be housed with the rest of the city’s workers and that city services currently housed on the building’s second floor could be moved to the ground level, Moore said.

On Monday, the Council won’t take action on whether renovations will take place, but city staff wants input on setting priorities for the project.

“It’s about starting the conversation,” Moore said.

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