City investigates building new service garage

by Melissa Martin

A local architectural firm hired by the city of Brecksville to evaluate the service garage said the city can expect to pay upwards of $5 million to build a new garage adequate to house the department’s equipment and staff of 50.

As part of the discussion during the Aug. 16 meeting of city council’s building and grounds committee, Don Rurko, principal for Makovich & Pusti Architects, said the existing facility, built in 1957, is in desperate need of upgrading. Not only does some equipment not fit in the bays because doors don’t lift high enough, the building isn’t deep enough for larger equipment and vehicles to fit inside.

Rurko also said the ventilation system is antiquated, the concrete floor is broken in several places, and the building needs additional insulation and a new roof.

“Much of this is original to the building and is just in need of an upgrade,” Rurko said.

Service Director Ron Weidig echoed Rurko’s sentiments, noting the administration elected to launch a full study of the building when it began to explore the possibility of enlarging the service garage mechanics bays. Though the brick exterior of the building has held up well, he said the condition of the interior has “become an issue.”

“It’s an older building that has already been remodeled four times since it was built,” Weidig told council. “The locker rooms are tight, there’s no place to dry equipment, and there’s two toilets and a couple urinals [to accommodate a staff of 50.]”

Weidig said the study was undertaken to determine whether it would be more cost effective to renovate the building a fifth time or build a new structure.

“We’re not asking for this money tomorrow or next year,” he said. “We did it to facilitate planning for the department over the next five to 10 years.”

Rurko told council he recommends tearing down the existing facility and building a new garage, even though it would cost approximately $1.5 million more than a remodel.

“You are going to get better efficiencies in a new structure and there will be far less maintenance,” he said. “You could put in a thicker concrete floor, a new roof that is designed property, an improved ventilation system, and you could heat and cool the building property.”

The estimated cost of new 13,460 square-foot building, 14 feet deeper than the existing garage to house the equipment, is $5 million. Adding a sprinkler system to the building would cost an additional $43,000.

“You also have the luxury of knowing that a new building will be there for the next 50 to 100 years,” Rurko said, noting the same can’t be said for a remodel of the current space, which would cost approximately $3.4 million for a 13,000-square-foot building. “[If the city chose to remodel the existing facility], there would continue to be issues between the building transitions, and there would be additional maintenance costs and higher operational costs with maintaining the building.”

As part of a remodel, Rurko said a 14-foot extension would be constructed at the back of the building to accommodate the equipment, and new bracing would be retrofitted into the walls. New LED lighting would be installed, the drainage system would be replaced, the locker rooms and restrooms would be renovated, and the four vehicle lifts would be replaced.

Following the discussion, committee members agreed that a tear-down and rebuild is preferred if the city elects to take action. In the interim, council has directed the administration to determine what needs to be done to the existing garage to make it through the next few years.

“If we did the improvements to the restrooms, made a larger locker room by reusing the lockers from the police department, that would be the last thing we would have to do before moving forward,” Weidig said.

Councilmember Beth Savage said she believes building a new service garage is the best use of city tax dollars.

“This [service garage] has served its purpose for many years and now it’s time to make a new building that will serve the future,” she said. ∞