2009-08-06 / Front Page

City Hall To Move To Old Bank Building

Last Wednesday July 29, the Lexington City Council met in Special Session and voted to purchase the old Prosperity Bank Building on the Square as the new home for City Hall.

The vote was two for, two against and one abstained with the Mayor breaking the tie.

The Council first went into Executive Session to deliberate the purchase, then as the law states, reconvened into Public Session to take action or vote on the property.

Lori Barnikow made the motion for the city to proceed with purchasing the old Prosperity Bank Building. Tony Tavary seconded the motion. Barinikow and Tavary voted for the motion. Greg and William Langehenning voted against the motion and Tim Brown abstained. Mayor Robert Willrich,Sr broke the tie with a vote to proceed with the purchase.

The purchase price is $112,500 this includes the furniture, fixtures and the security system.

Lori Barnikow and Tony Tavary are on the building committee and will continue on that committee to see what changes or repairs need to be made before the city can make the move.

The aim is to be in the building as soon as possible, probably before the end of the year. At this time it appears the police department will stay in the old city hall building.

The first discussions about buying the bank building were two years ago in the summer of 2007 when the Prosperity Bank was moving to their new facilities on the highway. The Council voted No to the purchase.

In July of 2007 the Mayor asked for public input on the bank building because of the outcry of the citizens that the building needed to receive more consideration and was put to another vote.

However, the idea was completely removed from the realm of possibilities following an engineering report that showed some asbestos and lead based paint was found in the building. Even though a separate engineering report stated that the building was sound.

At a meeting held on April 9, 2008, the City Council tabled the notion of buying the bank building "forever". At that same meeting, Council member Tim Brown reported that it could cost the City as much as $10,000 for the asbestos abatement on top of the original asking price of $150,000.

Fear of the potential cost of the asbestos abatement pushed the council into investigating and planning to build a new City Hall . The committee worked for about a year on getting plans for a new building, and at last count the new building was at $300,000 with an additional cost of $150,000 just for the foundation.

Then in June of this year Ronnie Bryan presented a petition with 300 signatures of registered voters to the Council asking that they reconsider buying the old Bank building.

Bryan provided the City Council with a copy of the engineering report from Southern Global Safety Services, Inc., the firm that was hired by the City to investigate asbestos and lead presence in the building. Of 62 samples taken from the building, 14 were positive for asbestos and three samples were positive for lead based paint.

According to the report, most lead based paint can be effectively managed via application of a secondary coat of paint that encapsulates the material. The asbestos removal would have to be performed by trained personnel who would be able to select the appropriate control strategy for dealing with asbestos exposure, which could be more costly than simply covering the lead paint.

After a two year study the decision was finally made .

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