By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- The township board will be looking further into purchasing the Belle Ann Elementary school building that has been closed since 2013 due to a decline in enrollment in the Brandon School District. The board gathered at a special meeting on Feb. 1 to discuss the costs associated with the building.
Township officials have been discussing purchasing the building since October, however, the costs have required significant research. If the township were to purchase the building, the municipal offices would then move to the school building, as well as the parks and recreation department, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon substation and the OTV cable staff.
“My impression is there would be more room for them [the police and OTV], but there would be a big cost for renovation,” said Kathy Thurman, township supervisor
The substation would need to include a locker room, showers, bathroom remodels, an area for a holding cell and a wall to block it off from the rest of the building since the parks and recreation department would be in the same building. OTV would need renovation to house all of their cables and equipment in their studio.
Clerk Candee Allen has been gathering information associated with the purchase, and emphasized major issues with the current municipal building.
“For the record, I don’t want to move out of the village to hurt the village,” said Allen. “We have a parking issue that is never going away.”
“We have a huge meeting issue, when we have big meetings. It just doesn’t feel fair that we can’t put them [the citizens] in a good space that they can sit and enjoy a meeting.”
One other large cost with moving would be air conditioning since the school building is not air conditioned.
“This is one heck of a big building to air condition,” said Bob Marshall, trustee. It is estimated that it would cost anywhere between $5-8,000 per room to install air conditioning, and it would also raise the regular bills.”
“Even if we didn’t make any changes over there right now, based on the numbers I calculated, it’s going to cost us $35,000 more per year just in utilities,” said trustee Scott Broughton.
The township board will continue to explore the costs of renovations and operation of the building, and have decided to give themselves a three month time limit to make a decision and let the Brandon Board of Education know.