2014-04-16 / Front Page

County, State Agency Work Together On New $8.3 Million Building Project

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Fulton County commissioners are putting together plans for a combined ODOT highway garage-Fulton County office building.

The plan could also include a “heritage center” or “visitor’s center,” possibly as part of the building.

The project, which currently has an $8.3 million estimated price tag, would replace ODOT’s current outdated facility on Shoop Avenue in Wauseon.

The proposal calls for a new facility on 11 acres of county-owned land adjacent to the Robert Fulton Building, the home of the Fulton County Agricultural Extension Service and Farm Service Agency.

The site is across St. Rt. 108 from the Fulton County Fairgrounds, and near the geographic center of the county.

They Came To Us

Vond Hall, Fulton County administrator, said ODOT officials were looking for a new site for a Fulton County highway garage for more than a year.

“While that was happening, we, the county, purchased the property to the north of the Robert Fulton Building for future county needs,” Hall said.

“At that point, ODOT came to us to see about possible partnerships. ODOT talked with the county engineer about sharing services.

Examples of shared services are a truck wash facility and a shop for making road signs... “things we might do at the county highway department level and share with ODOT,” Hall said.

Sharing space and equipment will be less expensive than each agency building its own truck wash or sign shop.

Hall said Fulton County needs office space for the Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Medical Services, and a new emergency operations center.

For EMS and EMA, Hall said a minimum of three 10 foot-by-12 foot offices are needed.

An emergency operations center is a large room or office where county officials can gather during an emergency, such as a tornado, to coordinate the emergency response.

It has an extensive list of communications equipment, ranging from radios to phone banks and internet services.

There will be white boards, and possibly computer smart boards.

Hall said ODOT determined it needs an emergency operations center in the area as well, so the possibility of sharing one was discussed.

Welcome Center

Hall said, “On the heels of all of this, the state legislators contacted us on possible capital projects here in Fulton County.

“We requested two projects for consideration: a sewage treatment plant, and a new museum for the historical society with a welcome center.”

The state capital budget bill for 2014 included a $1 million allocation for the welcome center, sometimes referred to as a heritage center.

That building could be attached to the combined ODOT-county building, or be its own stand-alone structure.

The location, across from the fairgrounds and near the Wauseon interchange on the Ohio Turnpike, lends itself to a museum-welcome center facility.

Hall said with the $1 million allocated by state government, county officials can begin discussions with the historical society.

In the future, the 11-acre site could be a new home for the county highway garage or sheriff department.

Finance

Theresa Pollick, ODOT spokesman, said that agency’s share of the project is about $7 million.

To qualify for an additional grant under the State of Ohio capital budget, Hall said Fulton County was able to count the cost of previous expenses as local matching funds.

That includes the purchase of property, which was $165,000, and the $25,000 cost of running fiber optic communications service to the Robert Fulton Building.

Fulton County officials also estimated they would have an additional $110,000 in design costs, which was applied into the funding mix.

Add in the $1 million for the welcome center, and the total price tag is $8.3 million.

Both Hall and Pollick said the project is in the very early stages.

Pollick said ODOT is working with Fulton County on a contract to purchase the land.

Hall anticipates construction could start late this year, and be completed in 2015.–David Pugh

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