Converting the current National Guard Armory for city offices and the police department would cost about $500,000 more than constructing a new building, the McCook City Council learned Monday night.
The council reviewed costs of rehabbing the armory with Jim Classe, an architect with the Omaha-based Prochaska and Associates, via a conference call Monday night at the regular council meeting.
The building will be vacated when the Nebraska National Guard moves to a new facility near McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport. This may take up to four years, as the Nebraska National Guard will be responsible for removing lead contamination in the building.
Prochaska gave preliminary estimates of $3.3 to $3.7 million to convert the armory, including estimated inflation costs.
The 1955 building has 19,141 gross square feet and Prochaska estimated the square foot needs of city offices and the police department would be 17,352 square feet.
The building appears to be structurally sound, Classe said, with no major structural issues such as masonry cracks. But there were concerns about load bearing walls on each of the two levels, he said, that would impact how to lay out the interior.
The second floor of the building also would have to be used to accommodate needed space.
Counciman Mike Gonzales asked how the heating and cooling costs at the armory compared with a new building and Classe answered that it would be "fairly equivilent."
Both Councilmen Lonnie Anderson and Aaron Kircher commented on the long wait for the building, with Kircher noting that with inflation, it would be hard to budget for.
Councilman Kircher also questioned square footage needs estimated for city offices and the police department in a new building, identifying eight offices he thought could be reduced in size to save about $60,000.
"It's not just how much we spend but what we spend it on, which is just as important," he reasoned. Offices he thought could be reduced in size included those for the police chief, city manager, a conference room, a sargent, utility director and building inspector.
Councilman Jerry Calvin and Gonzales said this scrutiny was premature, especially since the council has not yet decided what and if new buildings will be built.
No firm decision has been made by the council concerning new buildings for the city fire department, city offices or police department, other than at the Feb. 1 meeting when they unanimously voted not to pursue rehabbing the West Ward building.
McCook citizen Dale Cotton of the "West Ward Committee" passed out pictures to the council of a school in Hastings and hospital in North Platte that were converted to new uses.
He said the committee has a petition that asks the rehabilitation of West Ward be considered an option and that it brought to the vote of the citizens.