Mayor: New GF building will address growing city’s needs
Thanks to new businesses investing in Green Forest, the city is growing, and its infrastructure is growing with it.
The Green Forest City Council voted at its October meeting to approve the construction contract for a new city hall and police station, as well as the financing for the project. Josh Siebert, a designer with Modus Studio in Fayetteville, said the roughly 7,500-square-foot building will cost about $2.172 million. The project was originally estimated to cost about $2.4 million, he said, but was scaled back, and the complexity of certain parts of the project was reduced.
Mayor Charles Reece said a new city hall and police station were needed to address the rapid growth Green Forest has been experiencing.
“We’re combining the police department and the city hall under one roof,” he said. “It will be in the same location as the current city hall, which is going to wind up being a parking lot. Instead of facing west, we’ll be facing north along Second Street.”
The current city hall and police station are more than 60 years old, Reece said, and have several structural issues. The courtroom has flooded several times in the spring, he said, and the heating and air conditioning system in the city hall needs to be replaced.
“We’re looking at heavy expenses even if want to remodel,” he said, “but our utility bills here with regards to heating and air are outrageous because of all the windows. We’ll be able to cut down on operating expenses for the city by having the new building.”
The current police station, he said, has not had hot water in several years, and the city suspects there might be black mold in the building.
“We think it’s got black mold, but we don’t have a reading back yet,” Reece said. “There are a lot of issues there.”
The new building will provide both the city employees and the police department with less cramped quarters, he said.
“When I first looked at the designs, I said ‘Oh geez. It’s twice the size!’ ” Reece said. “But you have to consider that we’ll basically have two buildings under one roof. It was more than I wanted to spend, but, once we got into it and decided what we needed with the police department in there, it was essential.”
Since the police department will be housed in the same building, he said there are more security needs than a regular building would have.
“We’re taking care of that,” Reece said. “We’ll have the courtroom and judge’s chambers in the city hall, and we’re putting two flag poles out front. The cost of materials and labor is going up rapidly with all the building going on in the area, so this project would have only gotten more expensive.”
To save on costs, he said the city will take care of the landscaping and some of the street work for the building project.
“We’re not purchasing any new equipment or furniture,” Reece said. “We’re going to use what we’ve got. We will look to upgrade some software because it would make things more efficient for us.”
He said the new building will also feature a green space between city hall and the police department for city employees.
“If they want to go out in the summertime and eat there, they can,” he said. “I think they will be pleased with that.”
Construction of the new city hall and police station will probably be completed in about a year, Reece said.
“It may be in August or September, but I’m looking at October of 2018,” he said. “We’re excited about it. It was time to update them.”
Once the city’s administration buildings are completed, Reece said the next piece will be a new community center, which the city recently received a $75,000 Arkansas Rural Services Block Grant award to construct.
“It won’t be as large as Berryville’s, but we need something for the citizens here,” he said. “It’s exciting to see our city is going where it’s going.”