Rains delay move-in day for Sparta officials

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    Sparta-Sparta officials are going to have to wait a little longer for their moving papers. The completion of a new state-of-the-art municipal building has been delayed. Sparta's new home, which is currently being built directly behind the existing municipal building on Main Street, was to be completed by November. However, months of unusually wet weather have hampered construction efforts. Now, the completion date has been pushed back to January 2005. The most obvious advantage of the new building will be space. The new 35,000 square foot building will provide the township with over twice the room of the existing facilities. Once it is completed, the facility will house the municipality's planning, engineering and health offices as well as all of the administrative offices in the current building. The only township offices that will not be a part of the new complex will be public works, recreation, and the Sparta water utility. According to Sparta Township Manager Henry Underhill, the new $5 million complex is designed to be completely state-of-the-art, which will make the two-month postponement well worth the wait. The new facility also will improve operations for the Sparta Police Department. Currently, because of lack of space for holding cells, detained individuals are placed in a room and chained to a bench, making it difficult to follow departmental guidelines, which dictates that male and female suspects must be housed separately. The new building will not only create more office room for the department, but also house several individual jail cells. The local governing body will also get an upgrade with the new building. The new township council room will feature an overhead projector that will allow the audience to view documents being discussed by the council. Underhill emphasized that the transition into the new building will not occur over night. The township manager explained that once the building is complete, it may still take several additional months for the township "to tie up all of the loose ends" before it can move into its new home. "Some (offices) might move in immediately," said Underhill. "The police may be moved in faster than the rest of us." Once all of the offices make the transition, both the current municipal building and adjacent planning and health offices will be demolished. According to Underhill, it would not be cost effective to rehabilitate either building. The existing municipal building was originally designed in the 1920s as a schoolhouse. Over the years, it has suffered both termite and water damage. According to Underhill, the new building will come complete with both a state-of-the-art drainage system and medal beams designed to prevent some of the same problems in the future. "We're trying to build in all up-to-date stuff so we'll be set well into the future," said Underhill. "I don't see them adding onto this building for over 25 years."