Keep Existing City Building

When pieces of your municipal building begin falling off, you have a problem. No doubt Martins Ferry officials realize that. The question now is what to do about it.

A piece of metal window framing fell from the structure’s exterior last week. It landed in the city building parking lot. Fortunately, it did not strike anything or anyone.

This is not the first such incident, though it should be emphasized they are quite rare. Still, it is clear the building, about a century old, needs some repairs.

After the most recent problem, Mayor Robert Krajnyak said an engineer will examine the structure, “to make sure everything is OK.”

Almost undoubtedly, the engineer will recommend some repairs and perhaps preventive maintenance. How much money will be required is uncertain, of course.

Repairing the city building for continued use “might not be worth the expenditure,” Krajnyak noted. “We might have to move to another location or building. There are all kinds of options.”

All of them cost money, and Martins Ferry is sorely lacking in discretionary funds.

About a decade ago, city officials discussed constructing a new city building at a different site. Estimates for that project were between $6 million and $8 million. The idea was shelved.

No doubt erecting an all-new city building would cost much more than $8 million today, depending on a host of variables.

It would not be prudent to make suggestions about the facility until more information is available from the engineering inspection. A close, professional look at the structure could disclose deterioration to the extent that repairs are not cost-effective.

But unless the engineers’ estimate is very high, staying in the existing municipal building — and adopting an adequate program of preventive maintenance for it — may be the best course.

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