At the end of February, Victor city administrator Olivia Goodale, who had become increasingly concerned that the city building was unsafe, realized that the building didn’t have a single smoke detector.
“It was generally on my radar that the building wasn’t safe, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said on Friday.
She decided on Feb. 27 to reach out to building inspector Jason Letham and fire marshal Earle Giles. They quickly completed their inspections the next morning and determined that quite a few aspects of the building were not up to current code. Some examples included an insufficient number of egresses from some offices and the meeting chambers, inadequate fire insulation, improper ventilation, ADA non-compliance at the main entrance, broken emergency exit signs, and no fire or carbon monoxide detectors.
The back portion of city hall was built in the 1970s and an addition was put on in the 80s. While the building houses both the public works shop and the city’s administrative wing and meeting chambers, it was intended to only serve as a shop, and thus does not meet many regulations for an office building.
“Though there are many items that may be considered ‘grandfathered’ into older code requirements, the City should be one to set the example of compliance to all health and life safety codes and regulations that they in turn impose on other structures built within the city limits,” wrote Letham in his report. “Now that the City is aware of these code issues, they may have risk to liability do to the fact they have been properly informed of the violations in the unfortunate event there was a complaint from the general public or an accident or structure fire.”
City staff members are still working in the building and will continue to do so until the March 13 city council meeting (which occurred after press time this week), where the council will direct the staff on its next move. The steel structure itself was evaluated on Friday, but the results of that analysis were not available before the council meeting.
Goodale is eying two potential spaces to relocate to for the time being: the old Victor clinic or a unit in the Crossroads building across from the market, which is the preferred choice because of its central location, ample parking, and high speed internet. On Wednesday the council also reviewed a draft lease for Unit 101 in the Crossroads building; the rent would be $2,000 per month starting April 1 with a $2,000 security deposit.
Goodale estimated that relocation of the city’s administrative and public functions will total between $25,000 and $30,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year and will come from the city’s reserve funds.
“Thankfully, we’re ok,” she said. “Our reserves are healthy and an emergency like this is an appropriate use of reserves.”
After the staff’s immediate office needs are met, Goodale said that they will regroup and ask the city council for a long term solution, whether that means rehabilitating the old building or taking other actions.