New borough hall will save money, space
Avalon borough employees use computers, but they have to navigate a plethora of wires to get to them.
“For us to be enforcing building codes while we are in a building like this, well, it’s pretty bizarre,” said Avalon manager Harry Dilmore.
Avalon’s borough hall turned 100 this year and is a charming place in many ways. But it also is an inefficient maze with an overabundance of unused rooms.
“It is just easier and cheaper to replace it,” Dilmore said.
The new $1.5-million, 14,700-square-foot building will be next door to the current 16,000-square-foot building. The old hall will be demolished to make space for a two-level parking lot, which Dilmore said will alleviate some of the parking crunch on California Avenue, Avalon’s main commercial district.
The borough will pay for the new building with a bond issue, which Dilmore said will be taken out next month.
The design of the new municipal building will be a red brick Georgian structure, said Dan Franus, the owner of Franus Architectural Associates in Ellwood City, which is designing the new structure. The new building will be smaller than the old one, but officials said it will be more efficient.
Borough officials hope to start construction next spring and with completion scheduled for the following winter, Dilmore said.
Much of Avalon was built decades ago. Officials there said the new building’s design blends well with most existing buildings.
“We want the building to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood,” Franus said. “We are not out to shock people or to clash with the neighborhood.”
The project is Franus’s second in Avalon. The first was the borough’s library, which opened last year in a remodeled church.
The borough’s old library, which was in the basement of the borough building, had about 10 visitors a day. About 75 people a day visit the new library.
Dozens of problems will be remedied with a new borough hall, Dilmore said.
For example, the new building will have offices, a large council chamber and space for the police. Part of the first floor will be rented office space, an arrangement similar to the library, where Building Inspection Underwriters Inc. is a tenant.
“We want to get that same sort of long-term client to rent out of the borough building,” Dilmore said. “Building Inspectors has a 10-year lease, and the company’s rent basically pays for maintenance.”
The present council chamber can accommodate a maximum audience of about 25 people, and larger meetings have to be conducted in the auditorium of Avalon Elementary School. The new council chamber will accommodate an audience of about 80, Dilmore said.
Avalon officials considered remodeling the current borough hall, but Dilmore said that would cost more than starting from scratch.
Over the long haul, a new building will save money, he said.
“I hate to think of what our heating bills were last winter,” Dilmore said. “The new building will have zonal heating and that will save thousands of dollars each year.”