PHOENIXVILLE - Sketch plans and architectural bids for a new borough hall in the 300 block of Bridge Street have been presented to borough council.

Borough Manager Don Edwards said at Tuesday night's meeting, as part of a PowerPoint presentation, "The Need for a New Borough Hall - Future Growth vs. Current Capacity," that the new hall might cost as much as $5.5 million.

"The current borough hall was built in 1963," said Council Chair Jim Lolli. "To better serve the community we need a state-of-the-art, 21st-century municipal building to better serve the residents."

Fifty employees work at the current borough hall on Church Street.

Edwards expects the borough population to grow from 15,000 to 20,000 residents, with a corresponding increase of employees, which will add to an already overcrowded work environment.

"With an increase in people and businesses we're going to need more employees," said Edwards.

Edwards noted the poor condition of the heating and air conditioning, sound and lighting, comfort and the poor public image of the current borough hall.

The proposed 25,000-square-foot, three-story building will house the police department on the first floor, and borough business will be conducted on the second and third floors.

The proposed design for the police department calls for secure "sally" parking for two police cars at the rear of the building for prisoner transport, secure parking for 16 cars, eight unisex holding cells with an adjacent turnkey office and a live scan area.

Secure offices for the chief, lieutenant, sergeants, detectives and the juvenile office are part of the plans.

The police department will also have a central dispatch with supervisor's office, a conference room to seat 40 people, a processing room, locker rooms, a computer room and video cameras with high-speed Internet and state of the art telecommunications.

Police Chief John M. Kalavik told council members that the increase of prisoner holding cells from three to eight might allow the borough to house prisoners from other jurisdictions. Currently police departments pay a fee of about $100 per night to house a prisoner from another jurisdiction.

"We're in favor of regionalized police services, but not a regionalized police department," said Kalavik.

Building features might include a council chamber to seat 100 people, a meeting room to seat 40 people, and state-of-the-art audio and video equipment in the council chamber. Separate meeting rooms and offices for the manager, public works director and fire chief are planned.

Several members of the public and council discussed whether 100 seats for public meetings were more than needed. Councilwoman Tish Jones (D-East) was in favor of including 100 seats and suggested that the room could be used by local organizations as a public meeting space.

Edwards presented a schedule with the start of design in July 2004 and advertisement for bids during the winter of 2004/2005. Edwards plans to start construction in the spring of 2005. The building is scheduled to be completed within a year or by the spring of 2006.

The structure will sit next to an 18,000-square-foot district court building now under construction by builder Manny DeMutis. Both buildings will have a similar appearance.

The finance department will feature seat-level windows for cashiers to serve the public, will be closeby to the code enforcement department, will have a lobby with blank forms available to the public plus meeting and storage rooms.

The tax collector will have a secure work environment and a separate office with a window to handle business with adequate room for storage and a copier.

The mayor's office will be secure with an adjoining office for a secretary.

Code Enforcement will have two windows to serve the public, a lobby, a waiting/interview area, a storage area and computer and meeting rooms.

Four architectural firms submitted construction cost estimates.

Cathers & Associates estimated that the construction cost would be $3 to $3.5 million, while CICADA said that the cost would vary from $2.7 to $3.6 million.

Wallace & Watson set the cost at $4.3 million with Carnevale Eustis estimating the cost at $3.3 to $4.2 million.

Edwards said that he expects the total $5.5 million cost to be split evenly between the General, Water and Sewer Funds for $1.833 million each.

Edwards called for a funding strategy that would defer partial payment of a bond issue until 2011 with a 30-year term and at six percent interest. There would be a gradual increase in annual debt service between 2011 and 2034.

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