County to move ahead with health building
After reviewing an architect’s design, county commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to move forward with building a new health department at 1220 E. Main St. in Marion.
Commissioner Randy Dallke, who worked with health nurse Krista Schneider, commissioner Dave Crofoot, and Alloy Architecture in coming up with an initial design, said Alloy had been good to work with.
The plan is for a 5,000-square-foot building at the site of the former county food bank. Its entrance will face Main St.
It will have eight offices, including one for the health department director; a waiting room with kids’ play area; a break room; a staff and public restrooms; a conference room; a receptionist area; a laboratory; a supply storage room; a Safe Kids program storage room; a medical supply storage room; two examination rooms; and a lactation room that could double as an examination room.
The building’s parking lot would connect to a parking lot at the school district office just north of the building. Limited access to the health building would be provided through the school lot.
Alloy’s preliminary estimate of construction cost is $1,282,400 for a wood-framed building with a storm shelter, garage, canopy, 48 kilowatt generator, and limestone façade.
With a metal-framed building, the estimate would be $1.5 million.
In either case, if an $85,000 storm shelter is not covered by a grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency, the shelter will be removed from the plan.
The design allows for 21 parking spaces in front of the south-facing building.
“I think they’re all high estimates,” Dallke said.
County Clerk Tina Spencer showed commissioners possible funding sources for the building. Some of the money would come from unencumbered funds already in the county budget. Some would come from payments from Diamond Vista wind farm in the northern portion of the county. Her estimates added up to as much as $1,748,887.
Moving the health department out of the space it now rents from St. Luke Hospital would save $1,500 a month, but the cost of utilities, now covered by the hospital, would add to monthly expenses.
Commissioner Kent Becker, who voted against the plan, asked whether the county really needed a building the size of the one proposed. His concept of public health always has been outreach, he said.
“I think the main thing to decide today is whether we move ahead,” Dallke said.
Although Dallke said the county would use taxpayer money wisely on the building, Becker said he thought next year every other department would be asked to cut its budget.
Commissioner Jonah Gehring, who during past discussions of building a health department had argued along with Becker, said, “Obviously, I lost that.”