By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.-The township board of trustees is expected to decide on the purchase of the Belle Ann Elementary School property at their regular meeting at 7 p.m., May 7.
At a special township meeting on April 30, the board reviewed lists of costs for either option, either staying in their current facilities or moving to the Belle Ann building, as well as a list of pros and cons.
“There are things about this building you cannot fix. You cannot expand anywhere, up or out any sides, we cannot get any bigger,” said Clerk Candee Allen. “We cannot add to our parking at all. Last Thursday night I walked out my door and two people on motorcycles had driven around twice trying to find a parking spot.”
The board has been discussing the purchase of the building since October, and at a special February meeting they discussed with members of the school board about a time frame. The 90 day time frame will be up on May 7.
The school has been closed since 2015, and was one of three school parcels for sale in the Brandon School Distirct.The Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School was sold earlier this year. The Sherman Court property in Ortonville is still listed.
“It really is an opportunity that’s only going to come around once,” said Trustee Bob Marshall. “And I’m not sure we need it now, but we have to look long term. Long term, where’s the opportunity to find a building like this that might fit our needs for a reasonable price.”
Based on the cost analysis, if the township were to stay where they are, as well as the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon Substation, the Edna Burton Senior Center and OTV, the first year costs would be about $274,000, which includes the price of a new generator and any renovations the buildings would need. If all four organizations were to move into the Belle Ann building, the first year cost would be about $1.8 million, making a difference of around $1.6 million between the choices.
The purchase of the building itself would be $500,000.
“I have a feeling that some of these numbers, I’m going to use the word soft,” said Trustee Scott Broughton. “Once you start cooling that big building, it’s going to be very expensive. We’re talking about, regardless of cost, adding nearly $58,000 a year in costs.”
“The first year costs could potentially be lowered by whatever we sell the buildings for,” said Trustee Dana DePalma.
Following is a complete list of pros and cons compiled by the Belle Ann subcommittee, comprised of supervisor Kathy Thurman, Clerk Candee Allen and trustee Bob Marshall:
-Larger facility to maintain (mechanical, maintenance, structural). This will likely require additional or modified personnel staffing/scheduling.
-Upgrades to the heating/cooling system will be required.
-Updating to the bathrooms, office space, meeting rooms, etc. are required.
-Township offices will no longer be in the heart of the business district impacting staff (trips to the bank, post office, fire department, and other assorted errands and free time activities) and also possibly being more inconvenient to the residents.
-The size of the structure would spread the various departments over a larger building area.
-The “specialized nature” of the structure will require additional expenses to be considered (bathroom updates, heating/cooling considerations, modification of office access points, ie. public access windows, doorways and additional walls, carpeting, phone requirements, etc.)
-The expansive grounds will require greater care and upkeep, including parking lot snow plowing and sidewalk clearing.
-The asking price of the structure is extreme and prohibitive (as per the Twp. Assessor).
-After extensive conversations with Chief Kwapis of BTFD, the building is not suitable for their needs at present, or in the future.
-IF outside rental/lease options are pursued, Township liability may be a concern.
-Senior Center involvement with the project will require a temporary return of funding for projects originally budgeted for the previous senior center.
-Re-locating the Senior Center may be prohibitively inconvenient for some seniors.
-The placement of the parking spaces would be less convenient.
-Furnace placement would be disruptive to offices.
-Replacement costs would be more expensive.
-Maximum potential for office growth/expansion long term.
-Potential of having the majority of Township Departments under one roof (including Township Offices, OTV, OCSD, and Senior Center).
-Parking more than adequate for all involved departments.
-Structurally sound building with minimum number of repairs required.
-On site record storage.
-Reduced potential for surrounding business to interfere with Township functions (ie parking).
-Increased potential for recreation programming without the need for leasing space from other entities (building space, gym space, outside area).
-Majority of township departments will see an increase in the office space allotted.
-Specialized nature of the structure reduces the market value for non-specific use (per Twp. Appraiser’s value assessment.)
-Larger meeting capacity for Township meetings.
-Potential for outside rental/lease to outside businesses.
-Sale of Township offices, OCSD Substation, Senior Center (possible) could pay in total or in part for the purchase (dependent on negotiations). No longer needing to rent OTV can be rolled into this number.
-More centrally located to the center of the Township.
-Commercial Kitchen is available for the Senior Center activity area.
-We would be helping the Brandon School District by providing an acceptable use for one of their vacant buildings.
-The Senior Center would have a larger space for their special events.