Note: This is a slightly updated version of the story that appeared in the Elk Rapids News.
Everyone in the township has been monitoring the progress of the new town hall – dubbed the Community Services Building – but no one with quite as much attention as Supervisor Bob Spencer. Last week he gave the ERN a peek inside.
Good ideas begin at the outer lobby, a safe haven equipped with a 911 telephone and a convenient 24-hour drop box. The inner lobby is open and inviting. The service desk is wired to accept credit card payments. Beyond the desk are offices for the Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer, along with work space for the Trustees, Zoning Administrator and Assessor. There is lots of storage space, including a fireproof room-size vault for archived records, and a conference room for smaller meetings.
The airy, well-lit Community Room to the right of the lobby will accommodate large public meetings and social events handily. It is wired for quality communication, both audio and visual. (Imagine the township budget projected on a large screen.) A compact kitchen will serve both the Community Room and emergency services personnel.
The entire north side of the building is devoted to emergency services. Large vehicle bays will house ambulances, fire engines, the “hazmat” trailer (equipped to deal with hazardous materials) and the rescue boat. After a run, firefighters and EMTs can sluice off in the decontamination room, where the drain leads to a special DEQ-approved cistern for hazardous waste and oil. There are offices for the EMS and Fire Department directors, an EMT/firefighter break room, a storage loft/exercise room, small dorm rooms, and a courtesy office for State Police officers and County Sheriff’s deputies patrolling the township.
The new building can serve as a public refuge in case of disaster – a tornado, for example. It is fully ADA-accessible and has a backup generator that will kick on within eight seconds of power failure. John Banwell, site supervisor for electrical contractor Windemuller, says “We do hospital installations where the tolerance is four seconds. Eight seconds is a piece of cake for us.”
As a school district superintendent, Bob Spencer managed a $54 million bond issue and the construction that followed, an experience that prepared him to shepherd this project. The building will be ready for move-in sometime in May, and he is looking forward to the dedication ceremony.