Before the Hatboro Borough Council can undertake large-scale, big-ticket capital projects, it first must have a better grasp of the condition of borough-owned facilities, an official said.
To that end, Council President John Zygmont said the governing body, during a recent non-voting capital budget meeting, decided to move forward with an all-encompassing facilities study. The hope, according to Zygmont, is to determine what should be done with the ; how the public works departments' need for space could be addressed; and what should be done about the .
Combining some or all of these borough functions into one structure could be one of several potential outcomes, Zygmont said.
“We really need a professional to come in and tell us what to do,” Zygmont said of the need for a thorough evaluation. “It just makes sense to have professionals come in and at least give us a picture of what we have.”
Under the previous council’s leadership last year, to determine if the existing nearly 60-year-old police station should be renovated and expanded, or razed and built anew. The architectural firm suggested the council build a new police station at a $2.2 million price tag.
Zygmont said his concern with regard to that evaluation is that Omnia representatives did not take into account what would happen to the public works space within the existing police building.
“We’ve got a bunch of public works space that goes away. And they’re already taking about needing some more,” Zygmont said, adding that upgrades were not part of Omnia’s proposal. “If the police station was just renovated and we didn’t do anything more does it really meet our needs? If we replaced all the windows, replaced the heater and painted the inside of it, would it be functional? A professional person’s going to be able to say ‘nah,’ or ‘yeah.’ ”
Zygmont said the plan is to include the study in the general capital fund when the council holds its next capital budget meeting, tentatively in May.
“We have no idea of what it costs,” he said of the facilities study.
Borough Manager Steven Plaugher said he is reaching out to several architectural firms that are experienced with municipal, police and public works structures to obtain proposals.
“We are beginning to move,” Plaugher said. “I have begun making contact with different firms to see who we’d like to come in.”
Plaugher said it’s too early to determine how long it would take for a firm to be selected, conduct a study and subsequently offer a suggested course of action.
Because the facilities study is deemed a professional service – similar to hiring a borough attorney – Plaugher said Hatboro is not required to solicit bids and hire the lowest-bidding firm. Instead, he said, municipal experience will be the deciding factor.
Police Chief James Gardner said it “makes sense” to evaluate all of the borough-owned buildings before constructing a new police station, as had been previously suggested.
“I see the police station project as a ‘one-time shot’ so to speak,” Gardner said “So, I want to make sure we get it right, as whatever facility we use should last for decades to come.”