Small Town News


Council mulls future building

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

- Advertisement -

It has been more than two years since a business occupied the old Harvey's Hardware building but some city leaders hope that may change sooner than later.

In 2009 the city council entered into an agreement to purchase the building and Harvey's Hardware closed in December 2009. The council at the time bought the building with the intent of remodeling and converting the building into a new City Hall.

The council had plans for the building drawn in the spring of 2010.

However, months later questions were raised about the building and whether or not the city could afford to remodel the building.

Last fall the current council decided to put the building on the market to see if a potential buyer could be found. The city entered into a six month contract to sell the building with Pia Friend Realty. That contract expires next month and there has been little interest in the building.

The main reason the building has drawn little interest is the condition of the building. The building has been stripped and there is no heating or air conditioning and it would take more than $100,000 by most estimates to remodel the building.

"The longer we let it set it's just going to deteriorate," Councilman Gary Bryant said. "It's just going to get worse and worse."

The council recognizes that a plan for the building needs to come together fast. However, first the council must decide what the ultimate fate of the building will be. Will the building become a new City Hall or will it return to a private business?

"We need to look at it from both ways," Councilman John Norman said. "Because we don't know where we are at with that building.

"It all ties into so many things," Norman added. "It's a big ball and we don't know which direction to roll it."

An ideal situation for the council would be to have the building return to business. Most see the city square as a business area and want to see the building back on the tax rolls.

City Treasurer Joy Neely said Greensberg built a building after that city's disaster that is used as a small business incubator. Small businesses rent out office space from the city at a low rate until the business is established.

"If we can't use the building for what we need then maybe there is a way to bring in economic development," Neely said. "It's just sitting there."

If the city cannot sell the building the plan may steer toward City Hall offices as plan B. The only other option is to build a new building on a plot of land next to the Independent office. Both options are costly.

"We're the city of Oskaloosa. We need a City Hall," Mayor Mike Paavo-la said. "I think we need to do something."

The next step may be to ask city engineer Joe McAfee to give the city a cost estimate. Bryant said the city may want to spend some money to get the building up to code so that it can More information about the association can be found on its website at sell. Some city leaders say there are business people who are interested in the building.

"I could probably tell you a couple that would go in there now if it were just available and able to work," Paavola said.

The council will spend the next few weeks looking at grant options and exploring the possibility of combining a storm shelter with City Hall.

"It may have to be a couple of steps," Bryant said. Another concern is that the city is losing meeting and activity space for events such as weddings and family reunions. Norman said the city has lost the Eagles Lodge and the old City Hall building the last couple of years.

"It leaves the potential for our community to not have a facility to have even a medium size grouping together," Norman said.

Original Publication Date: January 19, 2012

More from The Oskaloosa Independent