Stark County commissioners on Wednesday approved a resolution to submit an application to the National Park Service to acquire the now vacant Frank T. Bow Federal Building for free. The park service has 90 days to respond to the application.
Stark County commissioners are going forward with plans to move the county Public Defender’s Office and some court supervision programs to the now vacant Frank T. Bow Federal Building.
On Wednesday, commissioners agreed to submit an application to the National Park Service to acquire the building for free. The park service has 60 days to review the application, and the county would have 30 days to respond to any additional information the park service may request.
The county could own the building by fall. The move would bring under one roof the Stark County Common Pleas Court programs that provide services and supervision to people awaiting trial, on probation or just released from prison, so they could better share resources. Those offices include the court’s Day Reporting Program, which now leases space at 1375 Raff Rd. SW, and Intensive Supervision Probation and Pre-Trial Release and Reentry Court programs, which are housed at the aging Stark County Administration Building.
The Public Defender’s Office also would move from the Administration Building at 200 Tuscarawas St. W, and that building likely would be put up for sale.
STILL COULD BACK OUT
While commissioners have expressed interest in the 78-year-old federal building for months, Wednesday was the first time they officially said they wanted to acquire it.
The board, however, made sure the county still could back out if costs involved with the move prove to be higher than expected.
A recent financial analysis shows that the county is expected to spend $938,915 to move into and renovate the Bow Building and another $745,102 in utility costs over the next 10 years. To keep the offices in their current locations would cost the county $1,036,386 in utility costs over the next decade and $442,000 on identified repairs.
Not included in the cost analysis are expenses related to installing security measures at the Bow Building, which made commissioners uneasy because money to pay for security would have to come from the county’s cash-strapped operating fund.
Representatives of the Stark County Regional Planning Commission, which is submitting the application on behalf of commissioners, said they were confident that the county could step away from the project if necessary.
Court Administrator Marc Warner agreed to assemble a planning committee to evaluate the potential security needs of the Bow Building, and then to report back to commissioners. He also reiterated Wednesday that the court is willing to take responsibility for the care and maintenance of the building and would be willing to pay the $459,458 that is estimated to be half of the renovation costs. But he also acknowledged that the renovation costs, and possibly the court’s contribution, could be higher.
Commissioners plan to use the county’s permanent improvement fund — which cannot be used for operations — to pay for the rest of the renovation costs.