The City of Brazil will not acquire the First National Bank building this year, though the mayor is keeping his options open.
"We were investigating it," Mayor Tom Arthur said Monday in response to a letter to the editor in The Times.
Shannon Heald wrote the letter questioning why rumored plans of the expansion of City Hall into the former bank building at the corner of Franklin and National had not been made public.
The reason, Arthur said in his office Monday, was because the rumors were premature -- his administration had not decided to enter into negotiations with the bank and plans had not been made.
"We looked at several vacant buildings," Arthur said.
He had spoken with bank officer Mitch Chalos about the bank building. Arthur obtained estimates of what it would cost for utilities, to repair the roof and fix mortar joints in the walls.
The City Council was kept up-to-date as information became available, Arthur said. But the project never went beyond the possibility stage.
After looking at an estimate of the cost, Arthur decided to put the project on hold due to city finances. The bank may offer the building to a non-profit organization or sell it, but Chalos has not put a deadline on the city's decision, Arthur said.
"It was never my intention to hide anything from the public," the mayor said.
The reasons Arthur looked at expanding city offices into a second building were the needs of the police department.
Shortly after taking office, Arthur and Police Chief Mark Loudermilk brainstormed about the possibility of expanding the police station.
For example, Arthur said:
- The police chief's office in the basement of the City Hall is in a former holding cell.
- The dispatcher needs to be accessible to handicapped persons, which is not now possible.
- When quarreling parties are taken to the police station for questioning, they cannot be adequately separated.
The police station is dark and dreary "like a dungeon" the mayor said.
Officers need to be patrolling city streets however, there are times they need to use office space. But, after looking at alternatives, the mayor has decided other things need attention first. One of those are streets.
City streets have been measured and classified in preparation for paving, Arthur said. Street department personnel have rated each of Brazil's 50 miles of streets on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst and a 10 rating for streets that have been recently paved and are in the best condition.
The report has been given to members of the City Council. Arthur has asked them to prioritize streets for improvement.
Arthur plans to spend $100,000 for paving next year. He hopes the city can purchase a DuraPatcher machine that will do a better job patching holes than the cold patch technique now being used. He hopes the city will let bids in September for the machine.
The city has applied for a $1 million federal grant to rebuild Pinckley Street from SR 59 east to the city limits. New asphalt and storm drains will be installed, if the grant is approved.
The U.S. 40 project is back on INDOT's calendar for 2007, Arthur said.
A drainage detention pond needs to be built at the intersection of U.S. 40 at Murphy Avenue, near a housing subdivision that is under construction on South Murphy. When the pond is finished, construction can begin, the mayor said.
Addressing another matter in Heald's letter, Arthur said he has not laid-off any city workers, but the city has decreased the number of workers as they quit or retired.