Proposed $7.5M Cascade Township hall sparks outrage

Particular concern about inclusion of employee gym and showers

Proposed Cascade Township Hall rendering
A rendering of the proposed Cascade Township Hall. (May 16, 2016)


CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some Cascade Township residents are upset about plans to build a new township hall at a price tag of $7.5 million.

The proposed hall would go in on the south side of Thornbrook Street SE near the library.

Some of its features are causing particular concern, specifically a gym and showers for employees. Cascade Township Manager Ben Swayze defended that part of the proposal, saying it encourages employees to ride their bikes to work by giving them a place to clean up and that they are used after employees have to visit construction sites.

“It’s something that our employees currently have access to right now. We have a shared facility with the fire department,” he added. “I think it’s been kind of blown out of proportion a little bit. You know, the exercise room is really just a an extra space in our basement that will have some hand-me-down exercise equipment in it.’

Proposed Cascade Township Hall rendering
A rendering of the proposed Cascade Township Hall.

Even if the township were to buy brand new equipment, the township estimates the gym and showers will cost $10,000 — a very small part of the total cost.

Even so, some residents say a brand new facility is unnecessary.

“I know it’s small,” one resident said of the current hall, “but maybe just add on.”

Swayze says that was considered that but the township found the current building can’t be built out due to codes or up due to structural problems. He also said the current building needs about a half of a million dollars’ worth of repairs between the roof and heating and cooling system.

“If we continue to put Band-Aids on this facility, we are going to outgrow it,” he said.

He said that in his opinion, the new hall is what’s best for the community.

So how does the $7.5 million price tag compared to other area halls of comparable size communities? 24 Hour News 8 found East Grand Rapids, which has about 15,000 residents, paid $8 million for its city hall in 2006 — but half of the building is the library so the hall accounted for about $4 million. Gaines Township, which has 25,000 residents, also paid $4 million in 2002.

The project to build the new Cascade Township hall has been in the works for almost two years. During that time, the township has held meetings and even an open house about it, but only about a dozen people showed up. Now residents are showing concern on social media.

>>PDF: Building plan

Still, the project is not a done deal. The township says it wants to hear from residents, but they have to contact it directly. The township’s main number is 616.949.3918 and Swayze can be reached via email at bswayze@cascadetwp.com.

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