West Fallowfield Township supervisors learned that their current plans for a new municipal building have a number of problems which will have to be corrected before the township can move forward with the building process. That news came from Jake Diem of Regester Associates, the township's consultant on the project, at the supervisors' regular year-end meeting on Dec. 29.
"It's evident that we're going to have to sit down with an architect to see what we can do," said Supervisor Chairman Elmer King.
Diem told the supervisors that he had spent several hours reviewing the plans with an architect in order to get an opinion on the feasibility of the building as planned, and that the architect had raised a number of issues with the building's design, which need to be corrected before the township can begin construction.
The main problem appeared to be that the pole barn construction that township officials anticipated using for the new building would not meet code specifications for a community building. Because the township plans to use part of the building for a new police station, the building would be accessible to the public and, therefore, would have to be of steel frame construction, Diem said.
Diem then said that supervisor Harry Troop, who was not present at the meeting, had raised the possibility that the police station could be moved into the township's community building instead of being put in the new building.
Township solicitor Winifred Sebastian said that she thought there was a difference between a public building and a building owned by a government entity.
"[The building is] not for the public, it just happens to be owned by [township] government," Sebastian said.
King then asked if they could still use pole barn construction if the new building were used strictly as a maintenance building, and Diem said that he thought that might be possible.
Diem added that there were also parts of the building that, as designed, would not meet the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) regulations for public buildings. According to Diem, the steps to the building do not conform to ADA regulations, nor do the size of the bathrooms. (ADA regulations stipulate that public bathrooms must be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.)
Other issues of concern were that the slope of the driveway was too steep to meet code, and that the well on the property could be problematic. Diem pointed out that properties surrounding the site have monitoring wells (due to groundwater contamination), which are not used for drinking water.
Diem then said that the architect he consulted was afraid that the layout of the building, as planned, may not meet the township's needs, and he later said that the township would have to pay prevailing wages to the contractors constructing the building.
"It has to be a scale job," Diem said. "Union wages are really going to inflate the costs."
Diem also pointed out that the existing building on the property would have to be torn down before the new building could be constructed.
King asked if that meant the whole building, or just the one wall, which was on the part of the site where the new building is to be located, and Diem said it would depend on whether that wall was a major structural component of the building.
Township Manager Bonnie Walton said that an architect had already been contacted about the project and had been asked to provide the township with a contract for the board's approval. She added that as of that evening, she had not yet received that contract.