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Winfield City Council votes to purchase building for new town hall

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Winfield City Council voted 4-3 in favor of purchasing a building on W.Va. 817 to serve as the city's next municipal building and show residents and visitors Winfield's "vision to move forward."

"When someone comes in for anything and the first thing they see is this little town hall here, and they ask if it was a schoolhouse and see it's an old building, they'll think we have no vision, that we're not planning to move ahead," said Mayor Randy Barrett. "I'm trying to move this town ahead."

According to Barrett, appraisals to build a town hall with enough space to house the Winfield Police Department and meet the needs of the city would cost between $1.5 million and 2.5 million, or $175 per square foot of commercial property.

The city was able to purchase a building that currently houses PJ's Daycare for $735,000. It also purchased land adjacent to it for an additional $30,000.

It will cost $30,000 more to prep the land for pavement and $25,000 to lay asphalt, plus a projected $38,700 for interior adjustments, for a total of roughly $860,000, or $112 per square foot.

The building, which is less than 2 years old, exceeds the expectations the city had for space when it looked into building a new City Hall, Barrett said.

"The biggest problem in planning and building that people have is they never build for the future," said Denny Sansom, a member of the Municipal Building Commission. "They built a sewer plant here and, by the time they had it built, it was too small. It happens all the time; you never look ahead. If he's got a building down there now that we can put people in and still have room to expand, that could last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years."

Dale Vance, a planning commission board member and co-owner of Stone Ridge Development, the company that owns PJ's Daycare, originally proposed that the city trade the building for nearly four acres of property adjacent to its power plant, but the city opted to buy the building outright.

It will be able to have the building paid for within five to 20 years, depending on the bank the town chooses to contract with and the rate it pays, Barrett said.

City Councilman Frank Bannister said the decision to keep the property near the sewer plant was to ensure it was put to the best use possible as a potential commercial property. The land is zoned as "C2" commercial property, which means it can be used for nearly any non-industrial purpose, Barrett said.

"They have, in appraisals, what's called 'highest and best use of property.' I think the highest and best use of that particular property is commercial," Bannister said. "It needs to be a building or two buildings or even three that are a good front for Highway 817, because that's our main street."

According to Barrett, the city has been trying for years to build or purchase a new city hall.

The existing building, which is back away from the main road, was built to serve as a water treatment facility in the 1940s and has limited space and structural problems, he said. Barrett wants to put City Hall and the police department in the new building, and convert police headquarters along the Kanawha River into a community center.

"It would take 359 years to make up the $1 million difference in building a new building if we paid $2,800 a year," he said. "We could never make up the money we would save up front on this building."

The next regular meeting of the Winfield City Council will be Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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