SPRINGVILLE Space is so cramped at the Springville city civic center that employees had to convert their staff bathroom into an improvised filing room, one city official said.
"To get into the filing room you have to sit on the toilet," said City Administrator Troy Fitzgerald Wednesday. "It's that bad."
City officials recently released master plans to replace the city's overcrowded, outdated civic center with facilities that should provide a little extra breathing room.
Springville's public service facilities including police department, court system, library and city administration buildings total nearly 30,000 square feet. The new civic center facilities, at the corner of Center Street and Main Street, will be four times larger, at an estimated combined total of 120,190 square feet.
The construction project is currently estimated to cost $25.6 million. But Springville community relations administrator John Gleave said the city won't levy taxes to pay for the construction because the City Council managed to save $10 million in a "rainy day" account, starting six years ago when they first conceived the project.
They plan to use the savings and cash flow to pay for the new fire station, police department, courts and city hall facilities, Gleave said. The City Council is also exploring financial options, such as bonds, to build the library and recreation center.
Gleave said they're hoping to start construction as soon as possible in spring 2008 to keep construction costs low.
Fitzgerald said the longer they wait to break ground for the new civic center, the higher the cost. At the current rate of construction inflation, he said, the price tag for the new city hall and fire station alone increases $10,000 per day.
"We've actually really turned the screw to our architects, if you will, to go as quickly as possible," he said.
Gleave said the public response to the plans has been overwhelmingly positive. Since they released the master plans, he said he's been approached by several people on the street who say, "It's about time."
But a group of Springville citizens takes issue with one detail of the master plan: the location of the new fire station. The new station will stand on the corner of Center Street and 100 West right where a city park lies. Pat Gee, who's lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, said she wished the City Council would move the site of the future fire station to Main Street.
"But they're not going to do it that way," she said. "We're losing our park."
Others share her concern. When the City Council voted July 10 to build the fire station at the park, 60 showed up to voice their opposition. In addition, two Springville children, 12-year-old Katelyn Bell and 11-year-old Kristina Tuohy, gathered 700 names on a petition opposing their actions. The children's efforts moved Mayor Gene Mangum to bring the park issue back before the City Council, but the decision stood.
City Council member Ben Jolley acknowledge the townspeople's concern but said they aren't losing the park.
"We've been able to place a park south of the (fire) station that is roughly twice as large as the old park," he said.
All things considered, Jolley said Springville residents are eager for the new facilities to be completed especially because the roof of the city building springs leaks, and they have to set out buckets to catch the rain droplets during City Council meetings."The city building has fulfilled its purpose," he said. "It's time to move forward and put in something a little better."