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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Selects Architect For Ella Court Renovation

Issue Date: June 27, 2019

After standing mostly vacant and unused for a decade and a half, the former Marinette County Jail and Law Enforcement Center known as the Ella Court Building will soon be getting a new lease on life.

The 28 supervisors present for the monthly Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, June 25 all voted in favor of entering into an agreement with Venture Architects, LLC, of Milwaukee for engineering, architectural, and construction oversight services to convert the former Marinette County Jail and Law Enforcement Center into usable modern office and storage space. Supervisor Tom Mandli was absent and excused. The District 24, City of Marinette supervisor position remains vacant since the resignation of Supervisor Gail Wanek last month.

Cost of the renovation has been very roughly estimated in the neighborhood of $3.5 to $4.5 million, and John LeFebvre told County Board that money will need to come out of fund reserves, since they have agreed that borrowing will not be an option.

Approval of Venture Architects for the design, engineering and construction oversight services for the project was in accord with a recommendation made by the Infrastructure Committee at a special meeting on Thursday, June 20.

The Venture proposal was one of three considered by the committee, and included a price tag of $279,942 for the design, engineering and construction oversight services as detailed in their oral and printed presentation. Price quoted by Ayres totaled $286,403, and price quoted by UP Engineers, based on number of hours and including 10 hours of construction oversight per week, totaled $289,000.

Before the committee voted unanimously in favor of the agreement with Ventures, County Administrator John LeFebvre informed them that was the choice he and Facilities Director Martin Keyport recommended.

If all goes as planned the building will have a new roof by mid-October and will be ready for full occupancy in early Spring of 2020. There is a strong possibility that the much needed new roof on the building will be an energy-saving "Green Roof" that would provide an attractively landscaped and furnished outdoor area atop the building that occupies approximately one third of a city block adjoining the back side of the courthouse in downtown Marinette.

The exterior of the building has been cleaned and spruced up by Keyport's staff and results of their work drew praise from County Board Chair, Mark Anderson at Tuesday's County Board meeting.

The Ella Court Building has been largely unused since the Sheriff's Department and jail were moved to the current facility on University Drive in February of 2004, when it was brand new. Over the years since there have been several discussions that involved possibly converting it for lease to the City of Marinette as a new Marinette City Hall. At least one county administrator had recommended tearing it down, but because it is so sturdily built the cost would have been prohibitive. It became a temporary library several years ago while the Stephenson Public Library was being renovated.

Currently it houses Forward Service Corp., the local chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and Sexual Assault Center offices.

County Board and LeFebvre agreed last year that the county should move forward with getting the building returned to full use. Much needed roof repairs would be done at the same time. In January of this year County Board approved a $24,675 contract with with Henry Malke & Son LLC/ A&P WI LLC for demolition and removal of the steel detention equipment from the jail on the building's top floor. That job has been completed.

The Infrastructure Committee authorized requests for proposals and as a result of their responses Venture Architects, Ayres Associates and UP Engineers and Architects were invited to give presentations at the special June 20 committee meeting. That meeting started at 8:30 a.m. with a committee tour of the 25,700 square foot concrete building that was constructed in 1982 as a jail and County Sheriff Department headquarters, with access to the courthouse. The annex had not yet been built, and there was a direct route from the jail to the court room which is now the County Board Room on the third floor of the courthouse. There currently is a connecting corridor to the new courtroom location in the annex portion of the courthouse.

The committee tour included explanations of various features by LeFebvre and Keyport, and a walk out onto the roof to take in the view and view the possibilities. LeFebvre said several times that he favors the green roof concept, both as an energy saving measure and as a way to add attractive space for public and staff use.

At 9 a.m. the committee returned to the County Board room for individual half hour presentations made by team members with each of the three firms being considered, starting with Ayres.

LeFebvre assured the committee representatives of five firms had all thoroughly toured the building and had been provided with original design documents. One did not submit a presentation, and the fourth was eliminated in the first round, leaving the three who were making presentations.

Each of those firms had experience with construction of vegetated roofs, explained how they can be done, and described some of the benefits. An Ayres spokesman predicted a green roof would last about 30 years, and said design would determine how much maintenance it would require, but they could work with the county on that. He said the building was designed to have a third story added, so it can easily support the weight, and the soil and vegetations moderates temperatures inside the building. A vegetated roof adds about 30 percent to the life of the roof. There would be a 3-foot parapet around the perimeter of the usable area.

Committee Chair Al Mans asked if this would be the first green roof in Marinette, and was told it most likely will. Committee member Shirley Kaufman said there is talk of putting a green roof on one of the condominiums being built in Marinette.

The Ayres summary of proposed work, like the others, listed full roof replacement, preferably with a vegetated roof system and patio pavers, elevator replacement with extension to access the roof deck, enclosure of stairwell accessways, extension of stairwells to give access to the roof deck, expansion of garage bay to be flush with the remainder of the building, demolition ad reconstruction of interior partitions as needed for new space, replacement and upgrade of HVAC and lighting systems, including use of "smart" controls, modification of fire protection, electric power and data systems as needed for new usage possible relocation of emergency generator, replacement of windows, new and upgraded restrooms, full ADA accessibility including new entrances as necessary, and new interior finishes. All presenters recognized that energy efficiency is a priority and the county hopes to get energy grants and incentives.

The Ayres proposal included a concept plan showing a suggested layout that could be used, with adjustments and refinement as necessary. They said a similar project described in a 2005 engineering study had been expected to cost $2 to $2.5 million, but there were no current estimates. The lead Ayres spokesman said he knew this was not what LeFebvre and the committee wanted to hear, but they could not be ready to let bids until December, which meant no work would be done this year. Bids could be awarded in winter, with construction to start as soon as the weather warmed in spring.

Next presentation was by UP architects, who told the committee the construction administration cost is negotiable, "based on what you guys need. He said they had done the Lloyd House renovation in Menominee and in their planning look at initial investment, comfort of tenants and operational costs. Their spokesman said green roofs can yield "fantastic energy savings," and felt could absolutely offer some energy incentives and some cost incentives.

Trista Hobbs of UP Architects, who would be project manager, is currently working with the Village of Wausaukee on design for improvements to be done at Evergreen Park there. She worked on improvements at Holtwood Campground in Oconto, Chute Pond field house improvements, and M&M Yacht Club renovations in Menominee.

The UP presentation recognized that the roof is in dire need of replacement before winter.

The garage bays are inadequate for parking trucks with plows attached, so the exterior wall would be expanded to align with the surrounding building, which would require foundation work and site restoration, and possibly involve relocation of some utilities entering the building.

Tom DiSalvo, landscape architect with Ventures, said he had done a 30,000 square foot green roof for St. Marys Hospital in Green Bay. He said it was done mainly to resolve problems with handling of storm water, "but it became a huge amenity."

There was some committee doubt on cost of a green roof, and DeSalvo said early in the planning they would need to do a ball park estimate of what costs might be versus benefits.

Committee Member Gilbert Engel commented the energy efficiency savings could help recoup costs over a 20-year period, and meanwhile the rooftop patio would be a benefit for staff, giving them a nice environment in which to eat and relax.

After the presentations LeFebvre said he recommended going with Ventures, based on what they presented today and what they told us previously, and said he felt Keyport agreed with him.

He said it is very important to get the green roof discussion started early, because of need to replace the roof this year. He added that early completion is important from a financial standpoint as well. The county is paying $70,000 for nine months to rent space from NWTC for county employees working with income assistance who will be among those moved into the newly renovated facility when it is done.

He asked each committee member to fill out a ranking sheet with preferences listed in 1, 2 3 order. Each committee member put Ventures in first place, with the other votes varying between Up Architects and Ayres.




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