Council gets Armory Square update

Plans for the next phase of Marietta’s Armory Square project are on a fast track, according to a presentation to city council’s lands, buildings and parks committee Monday.

In order to move forward with renovation of the century-old building’s first floor, which would allow partial occupancy of the facility, a final design plan has to be developed for that area by a certified architectural firm.

The process of selecting a suitable architect could take some time, but city engineer Joe Tucker suggested a firm already in place could provide the necessary services.

“Early on we did a quality selection process and chose the Davis Architectural Group to design the project, and they’ve been put on the shelf for several months,” he said.

Tucker said he had met with Ron VanWey, vice president of Davis Architectural Group, which designed the original armory renovation project for the entire building.

So far that project has included a new roof, new windows and doors, new front steps, a new parking lot and some interior upgrades on the building over the last few years.

But the facility has to be ready for at least partial occupancy by September 2015 to meet the requirements of an Ohio Department of Transportation National Scenic Byways grant in the amount of $252,397 to pay for the first floor renovation project.

“VanWey has said Davis Architectural could easily accommodate the project in their schedule, and he’s already familiar with the history of the armory project,” Tucker said. “He said this is doable, but we can’t waste any time.”

Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs the lands, buildings and parks committee, agreed with Tucker’s plan.

“I have talked with Joe and would be very happy to move forward with his suggestion,” he said. “ODOT wants to see this project done.”

Noland said the city had a “very cordial” meeting last week with ODOT officials who oversee the Scenic Byways grant funding, but work to renovate the armory’s first floor has to be on a tight timeline in order to have that phase of the project finished by September of next year.

Tucker said the next step will be city council approval of a Local Project Agreement (LPA) with ODOT to continue with the project. The LPA is expected to be approved during the next regular city council meeting May 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park.

On a related topic, Jane Tumas-Serna, president of Armory Square, Inc., a nonprofit group that has helped raise support for the armory renovation, presented the committee members with a memorandum of understanding agreement to transfer funding for the project from the group to the city.

“With the city’s signature of this 10-year agreement Armory Square, Inc. would deposit $62,099.12 with the city as matching funds for the National Scenic Byways Grant,” she said.

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said he would give a copy of the proposed MOU to city law director Paul Bertram III for review.

In other business Monday, Hupp announced that Marietta Memorial Hospital officials had agreed to lease 30 spaces for employees, interns and hospital construction workers in the Indian Acres parking lot.

For more than a year the city has allowed use of the lot for overflow parking at no cost to the hospital which has been providing shuttle service between the lot and the hospital for the workers. But earlier this year city council designated a portion of several municipal lots as monthly paid parking spaces, including 30 spaces at the Indian Acres lot.

Each space is leased for $25 a month, and the revenue is to be used for parking lot maintenance and to pay the salary of a part-time parking enforcement officer who’s expected to be hired within the next month.

Noland said the MMH rental of the Indian Acres lot spaces would garner $750 a month for parking lot maintenance and enforcement.