City joins early move toward a joint building

    A proposed city-county building in downtown Decatur took another step toward reality Tuesday night when Decatur City Council unanimously agreed to spend the funds necessary for its involvement in such a project.
    While a city-county building still has numerous hoops to jump through, momentum seems to be building. Now that the city has committed to paying the Schenkel Schultz architectural firm of Fort Wayne to move forward on plans, it's almost assured the county will follow suit.
    Although council committed the city to the first phase, Mayor John Schultz pointed out that should the county drop the proposal then the city would no longer be obligated.
    Schenkel Schultz associate Cory Miller, a Decatur native, told council Tuesday night that if it agreed, his firm would "go to the next step." That would involve, Miller pointed out, developing a floor plan, offering a mockup of the building, a cost estimate, etc. Public hearings would follow later.
    "So you know how big is the apple you're going to bite," he told council.
    The city's cost at this time would be approximately $20,000, and its share of the final overall cost would likely be 30 to 40 percent, according to the mayor.
    There was no real discussion, just positive comments. "We need a new city hall, a new police station, this is something we need to do," Councilman Ken Meyer said.
    Councilman Matt Dyer said it was a wise decision to construct the building in the downtown area.
    Councilman Bill Crone moved to proceed, Meyer seconded and the vote was 5-0.
    Dave Sholl, a Schenkel Schultz vice president, on August 8 offered the county commissioners a contract cost of $34,000 for its services. The commissioners did not commit, saying they wanted to talk to city officials first.
    Now that the city has committed, it's likely the commissioners will quickly follow with their approval.
    The deteriorating condition of the 106-year-old onetime library building which houses superior court and the probation department first spurred talk of a new building. Since city officials have talked of the need for a new city hall and police station, they were contacted by county officials on the possibility of a joint effort.
    At present, if such a building comes to fruition, it will likely be built in the quarter-block area along Madison St. which faces the courthouse and currently houses Gensis salon and the Living Word Temple, among others.
    An early estimate has pegged the total cost at $6 million.