Green Forest council hears revised plans for new city hall

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Green Forest City Council is moving forward with plans for a new city hall.

Josh Siebert, a designer with Modus Studio in Fayetteville, spoke to the council at its Tuesday meeting about the design plans for the building project.

“We spent the first part of the spring bidding the project and bid it out on July 13,” he said. “At that point, the project came in at $2.4 million. Mayor Charles Reece had challenged us to sit down and look at the project a little more.”

The plan is for the new city hall to be 72,000 square feet, Siebert said. In reviewing the designs, he said the complexity of the project has been reduced, but the square footage remains the same. Oelke Construction of Springdale was the low bidder on the project, he said. Modus Studio met with Oelke to discuss what elements could be taken out of the building project without compromising it.

“We’ve taken out a lot of the lighting components and changed the mechanical system,” Siebert said. “We looked at what the city can do and what we can pull out of this package to bring it down to a smaller budget item.”

He said the current estimated expense of the project is about $2,059,000.

“We’ve not quite entered into full contract with Oelke Construction,” he said. “At this point, we’re at a juncture of considering the budget we currently have and deciding if we want to move forward with this project as it’s been bid.”

Siebert said he would urge the council to move into contract negotiations with Oelke Construction soon.

Reece said representatives from Raymond James and Associates, Inc., which is consulting on the financing for the building project, were not able to make it to the council meeting. He said Raymond James has said the project is fully funded.

“Anyone who came in after the heavy rains and waded through three to four inches of water in here understand the need for a new city hall,” he said. “This building is 60 to 70 years old. It’s time. Ultimately, I think we’ll be able to save on utilities and a lot of maintenance issues that we have here.”

Alderman Cody Boren said he would like to hear from Raymond James about the financing of the project before moving forward with contract negotiations. The council agreed, and Reece said they would schedule a special meeting later to vote on the building plans.

Also at the meeting, the council voted to approve the purchase of a new vehicle for the fire department for $53,781. The conversion of the vehicle to meet fire department needs will cost $43,000, making for a total of $96,781.

Green Forest Fire Chief Tim Howard said the fire department will put its old truck out for bid if none of the city departments can use it.

“We should be able to put it up for bid and get about $15,000 or so,” he said. “I’ve had several people ask what we’re going to do with it.”

Reece said the expense would be taken out of the city’s emergency fund.

New city attorney Clint Scheel was later introduced to the council. Reece said he and Scheel have been looking into addressing unsuitable houses in the city by amending Ordinance 2007-580 to include prohibiting living in facilities intended for storage, such as Connex containers and prefabricated wood buildings.

“I think it’s well-written and not overly broad,” Scheel said. “I don’t think we’re prohibiting someone from having this as a storage shed in the back of their yard. This is just talking about the front yard and them not living in it. I think it will be effective.”

“I’ve had several people ask me if they can move into these things,” Reece said. “We have to be careful not to set a precedent because it can become a slippery slope really quick.”

He said the council will continue discussing the issue at its next meeting.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at City Hall.

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