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Voyageur's Best Features of 2006

Sham-rock Township

One week, one million dollar decision
by Angie Johnson  |  July 25, 2006

Plans for the proposed Sham-rock Township town hall and maintenance building have been further refined. The size has been reduced by 88 square feet since June’s meeting—for a total of 10,553 square feet—because the restrooms can be smaller. Building costs are still estimated at $1,433,610.43. Voting on the decision will take place at the continuation of the Shamrock Township annual meeting on Thursday, August 3, by a show of hands of eligible township voters.


“We’ve been working on getting this building as affordable and cost effective as possible,” said John Geissler, a DSGW Architects representative, at the latest special meeting on the building held July 17. “I don’t think we could get any more efficient than the way we’ve done it right here,” John said.

Rather than using a sprinkler system in the maintenance hall, which John says could cost around $100,000, a fire wall dividing the maintenance portion of the building could be included in the design. This should save the township money, but John wasn’t sure how much. He is also looking at using a wood frame for the town hall portion of the building. This is less expensive and more readily available than precast concrete, which was the original plan.

Some residents questioned whether the building will still be expandable with these materials. “I still believe it’s very easily expandable,” John said.

DSGW has also started designing the exterior of the building. “We’re trying to make it look like a town hall, not a maintenance building,” John said. They’re planning to have a higher roof on the town hall (the front of the building that will face the road) to hide the maintenance garage behind it. DSGW is proposing cement board siding that has a 50-year warranty and composite fiberglass asphalt shingles that should last 25 years.

 The construction manager, Construction Analysis and Management (CAM), also had a representative at the meeting. “Our main job is to get the job done on time, on or under budget,” said CAM’s Chuck Wayt. CAM has significant experience in managing these types of building projects, and the managers are confident in their ability to estimate the costs of this building based on square footage. Their goal is still to begin construction October 1 and complete it in six to nine months.

This building will also be a good opportunity for local contractors. “The way it’s set up, a lot of local contractors could bid on this very easily,” said Shamrock Township chairman Ron Smith. “It could be broken up.”

Not everyone at the meeting, however, was convinced by these presentations. “I just think we’re spending an awful lot of money on a building to put $200,000 worth of equipment in it,” said Terry Roy, resident and owner of Eagle Point Lounge. “It’s like putting a fur coat on a pig. It’s too much money. It’s going to cost even more to maintain it.”

Terry was also very concerned about the town hall’s kitchen. “You’ve got a kitchen in there,” Terry said. “What, are you going to start serving food in the place so you can compete with the restaurants and the bars that are up here now? You don’t need a kitchen. You need a microwave and a coffee pot. I personally am going to vote against it, and I’m going campaign against it.”

He suggested getting rid of the town hall and cutting the cost in half. “Get this down to a civilized price, and everyone in here will vote for it,” Terry said.

“We need a maintenance building desperately,” said Shamrock Township supervisor Nancy Karjalahti. “We want you to be for this building, not against it.”

Bruce Kimmel from Springsted, an independent public financial advisory firm, presented information on financing as he did at the last meeting. Estimates have not changed; he still expects there to be an increase of $49 per year for a residence valued at $200,000 for the 15-year plan. The increase would be $35 per year for the same residence on the 20-year plan. These costs are in addition to the estimated $39 per year this household has already been paying in to Shamrock’s building fund. A commercial business valued at $400,000 could expect an increase of $180 per year.

Again, these numbers don’t assume any growth in the overall tax base of the township—which has been going up between 16 and 20 percent for the last few years. “I think it’s fair to assume this will continue faster than your home is appreciating,” Bruce said. “The cost [for the building] would decrease over the 15 years.”

Bruce thinks the interest rates would be approximately 5.23 percent or lower. “This financing would be locked in place once sold,” he said. Bruce thinks the township could look at refinancing or paying off the debt in seven to eight years.

Day-to-day costs of the building after construction, however, have not been calculated. John Geissler said $1,000 a month for heating, electricity, and other expenses is a rough estimate. The engineers are meeting to discuss this soon, so residents should check the Shamrock Township website ( and the Voyageur Press for more information as it becomes available.

This article first appeared in the July 25 issue of the Voyageur Press.