Proposal for New Owosso Public Safety Building
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
FRED MEINBERG, from Partners in Architecture, PLC presented plans for a new Owosso Public Safety building to be located where the current facility is today, to the Owosso City Council on Monday, June 18.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
A special presentation was held during the Owosso City Council meeting on Monday, June 18 from Partners in Architecture, PLC outlining the results of their assessment of the Owosso Public Safety building on Water Street. Fred Meinberg and Andy Sowinski from Partners in Architecture, detailed their findings, including poor site conditions related to pavement and foundation settlement that has now led to a rough transition in the emergency vehicle bay doors, drainage issues (inside and outside), good overall masonry but salt damage at certain mortar joints, original 1950s style single pane windows with no thermal break, roof age, rough hardware, minimal exterior lighting and extremely rough interior conditions. Some interior concerns are water infiltration issues, poor toilet fixtures and water quality due to a mix of both copper and galvanized plumbing, barrier-free accessibility concerns, security problems due to cracked glass, a boiler area with ceiling problems, outdated electrical and wiring problems (some of which is so old that replacing it is extremely expensive), inefficient lighting, a hood in the kitchen that is a potential fire hazard, poor cabinetry and a bunk room that is completely inadequate for current needs. Discussing the current bunk room, the poor air system and partitions that fail to meet the ceiling for privacy were mentioned. The proximity of the sleeping quarters and current fitness area with contaminated turn-out gear is also a health hazard. Many other issues were presented to the council with the overall suggestion that a new facility is needed.
Meinberg shared they had been thorough in talking with employees from every department, questioning departmental and individual needs, to develop their assessment. The current 1950s/1970s structure is 15,000 square feet, though 21,000 square feet is what is needed to create determinable space usage. At this time, many rooms are being used in an inefficient dual-purpose manner. As codes have been altered and decades have gone by, the Owosso Public Safety building has simply become outdated, inefficient and in a few ways, even hazardous.
Partners in Architecture proposed a strategy that would include, amongst numerous improvements in a brand new building, a specialized room specific to gear cleaning (decontamination), necessary storage space for firearms, a new fitness room, proper sleeping quarters, modern safety and efficiency considerations, a community/training room, a briefing room, an efficient layout/design that would include assisting emergency employees to get from the sleeping quarters to the emergency vehicle bays faster and many other elements.
In the proposed design of the new building (shown above), Partners in Architecture took a thorough walking tour of the downtown area, seeking out architectural inspiration to assist with the design. The concept is to have a new Owosso Public Safety building that will represent the historic beauty of downtown, but will also grow with future needs in decades to come. The estimated cost is roughly between 7.5 and 9.5 million, though that will likely fluctuate due to recent international trade changes.
Council member Burton Fox asked Meinberg and Sowinski what would be priority items to focus on if the city is unable to consider a new building and had to look at continuing with the current structure. Some suggestions were an adequate place for turn-out gear, a larger evidence room, a proper and safe fitness room, new windows, etc.
Mayor Pro Tem Sue Osika also questioned how operations would continue during construction, since the plan would be to build the new structure on the same location. The suggestion from Partners in Architecture was that the emergency vehicle bays would be constructed first, though during the process, offices would have to be moved into trailers or elsewhere.
City manager Nathan Henne was clear to share that this presentation was not intended for the November ballot.