Committee weighs moving, staying options for City Hall

City Council’s Ad Hoc City Hall Committee met Tuesday and honed in on two final options — to remain at the current City Hall or to renovate office space the city owns at Trade and Transit Centre I or II.

“I think we are making progress to the point of completion for the committee,” said Councilman Adam Yoder, its chairman.

Short of a funding plan, which is estimated to be $4 million to $5 million for either option, the committee has narrowed its intent to either make a decision on staying at City Hall or moving the administrative offices to one of the transit buildings, with the exception of the Williamsport Bureau of Police.

It does not want to pursue any option of a lease of office space with Lycoming County at the Third Street plaza building.

The committee discussed various grants, loans and non-grant funding options to remain in City Hall or to move out of the building.

Jon Sander, city engineer, said he reached out to economic development consulting firms. The firms included Thomas Keller and Associates, Delta Development Group and Penn Strategies, Sander said.

These consultants went through possible grant opportunities to repair City Hall or move to a new building, Sander said.

According to Delta officials, there is a potential for Keystone Community funds for the move to either Trade and Transit Centre I, and state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant opportunity for remaining at City Hall.

Additionally, a U.S. Department of Interior Grant of $500,000 is available for renovations to municipal buildings, but that application is due at the end of the month, Yoder said.

Keller also noted how Community Development Block Grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development may be converted into low-interest loans, Yoder said.

Penn Strategies also provided options for between $1 million up to $3 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants, with a 50-percent match.

“We are looking at up to $5 million in a combination of grants and loans,” Yoder said. There appeared to be more grant opportunities for the city to remain at City Hall, but there were some for relocating to another facility, he said.

“It helps us to quantify what is out there,” Yoder said.

In another area of discussion, Yoder said he and Mayor Derek Slaughter agreed on a broad overarching funding plan needed before a final decision can be made.

Yoder asked Joseph Pawlak, interim finance director, to be brought in on any non-grant opportunities.

Pawlak said he would be able to look at these non-grant opportunities in February.

The city has a draft plan of renovating office space on the third floor of Trade and Transit Centre I, which is leased and occupied by the Community Theatre League, which uses the space and has its main theatre in the round on the first floor of the building.

The committee did not discuss the theater group in the meeting.

The city also has a draft plan of adding an accessible ramp on the west side of City Hall and updating the facility throughout the building, including the police department.

Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator, also drew up plans for a public safety building for the city. The building, as shown in the draft, was estimated to cost $10 million to $15 million and could not be built unless the city was able to find the funding, said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, chair of the public safety and public works committees.

The next committee meeting is 4 p.m. Feb. 9.


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