Antrim Township supervisors divided over government complex

February 28, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - After nine years of planning to find the ideal 27 acres of land and design a 21,500-square-foot proposed municipal government complex, the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors can give about 6 million reasons why the only number that matters now is three.

With a three-vote majority needed to move forward, the five-member board remains divided over the $6 million cost of the project.

"My objection is mainly financial," supervisor Curtis Myers said last week. "If we could build for $2 million, I could get behind the idea."

Myers also shared his displeasure with the project during Tuesday night's supervisors meeting.

"We need to carefully think about what we are willing to impose on our citizens just so the staff has a plush place to work," he said.


Chairman Robert Whitmore said the project began nine years ago when the board noticed it was outgrowing its building along Antrim Church Road.

Whitmore said the journey taken by the board as it developed the project involved "thoroughly" investigating its possibilities.

"We looked into expanding our existing building, buying land across the street and staying where we are, buying already built industrial facilities, and buying raw land all before we purchased the land two years ago," he said.

Architect Jennifer Greenlee of Newcomer Associates said the proposed complex includes a new office building, an equipment storage facility, a salt storage building, a recycling center and 136 parking spaces.

Earlier this month, the board opened six bids for the project, but was forced to readvertise for three of the bids.

If the board approves the bids made for the project at its March 27 deadline, township manager Ben Thomas estimates the project will take 300 days to complete.

However, not everything will be completed in the 300 days. Thomas said the proposed second story and about 1,000 square feet of the main office building are not set for completion with the rest of the project.

"It is being done this way for financial reasons," Whitmore said.

The board has budgeted money out of its reserve funds, Thomas said, and estimates the complex will cost $4 million to $6 million.

Supervisor Samuel Miller said the board could do much more for the community if it would channel the $6 million into other projects.

"I say finish what you start," he said. "We have a road out there, the Grindstone Hill extension, that goes to nowhere that we should be finishing before we start something else."

Myers and Miller have taken strong opposition to the proposed complex, referring to it as "the Taj Mahal."

"We vote as taxpayers and I have a hard time soaking the people for a $6 million project they will not benefit from," Myers said. "It appears to me the staff is the tail that is wagging the dog on this project."

Supervisor James Byers welcomed anyone concerned with the proposed complex to seek more information.

"I would encourage anyone against this project to come to the office during the day and see how cramped our existing building is," he said. "If people would educate themselves on the issue, they would be in agreement with the project."

Despite the criticism from Myers and Miller, Whitmore said he never has heard a citizen complain about the project.

"I have not had anyone call me or talk to me on the street saying we should not build this building," he said. "This is not the Taj Mahal, but we do have room to grow."

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