(Posted June 24, 2021)
By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer
The village of Plain City is hosting a long-awaited open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new municipal building.
The public is invited to tour the building, located at 800 Village Blvd., and enjoy light refreshments on July 1 between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. There may even be an ice cream truck on the premises for those with a sweet tooth.
“This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Nathan Cahall, village administrator. “We want the public to come out and see this great facility, see their tax dollars at work, and also have a bit of fun with the family.”
He said the event has been more than two years in the making.
The project’s official groundbreaking took place in April 2019. The great hope at that time was the project would be completed on budget before the end of the year with the open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to follow soon thereafter.
As the months passed, the construction schedule was pushed back due to change orders and inclement weather. So, too, was the schedule for any public ceremony to celebrate the project’s completion.
“We all know it’s not an official opening without the big scissors and the ribbon,” Cahall quipped.
But when the project was complete and the time came for the government officials and the police department to move into their new digs, COVID-19 shut down everything.
“We were able to work in the building, but it was nothing like we had initially envisioned,” Cahall said.
Eventually, the public could access the building to pay bills. They no longer had to travel to multiple locations around town to take care of village-related business as the new building centralizes services. But they were not able to officially see the $3.1 million complex they helped to fund with a 0.5 percent income tax levy.
Come July 1, however, they will finally be able to see what is inside. Upon entering the facility, visitors will see a shared lobby with the administrative section to the right and the police department to the left.
The administrative section houses the village council chambers and offices for the fiscal officer, mayor, parks and recreation, the income tax department, utilities, and the zoning department.
There are also several conference rooms and a kitchenette, to name some of the features.
The police section is three times larger than police department’s former station on Friend Street. The space includes a detective’s office, interview rooms, a property and evidence room, a training room, and a safe room for victims of crimes such as domestic violence.
It also features a Sally Port to move suspects into and out of the building safely without posing harm to the community at large.
Police Chief Dale McKee had a hand in designing the layout of the police section. He said one of the things they absolutely needed was separate bathrooms for police staff and suspects.
“We had to share a bathroom at our last station,” he explained. “Sometimes, we would go in there and there would be urine or feces all over the floor or the walls.”
He said having that separation, as well as having the additional space overall, is a true point of pride for the officers.
“It has been a real morale booster for them,” he said. “They walk into this new facility, and they feel proud.”
He added that construction of the new municipal building is one of the highlights of his long career.
“When I started here more than 25 years ago, our department ran out of a trailer common at a construction site,” he said. “We used to joke that someone would hitch us to the back of their truck and pull us away while we were inside.”
He, along with Cahall, said they are grateful to the community for helping to bring the building to fruition.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without their support,” McKee said.