By Ed Runyan
City officials say they will finalize a few documents and then begin to plan for how they will use their new 50,000-square-foot Gibson Building.
Optimistically, they could begin moving personnel and furniture into the $2.5 million, 16-year-old facility before the year is out.
On Wednesday night, Warren City Council gave an 8-2 vote of approval, finalizing the purchase from Gibson Real Estate.
Based on comments council members made about the condition of the Community Services Building, 418 Main Ave. SW, where workers moving to the Gibson Building work now, it’s not a minute too soon.
“I’m surprised our employees have not sued us to get out of Main Street,” Councilman John Brown said.
“I would like to say, ‘Good riddance’ to the Main Street location,” said Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, one of the two people who voted against the authorizing legislation.
She and Councilman Eddie Colbert both said they were voting no because they thought the $2.5 million cost was too high.
“It’s the nicest building we could buy,” Colbert said. “My biggest issue is, I can’t justify the price.”
The Trumbull County Auditor’s office appraised the building at $1.75 million in 2011.
Many council members mentioned an alternative proposal by Girard businessman Sergio DiPaolo, but none said they or the public took the alternative seriously. DiPaolo, owner of the former Delphi complex on Dana Street Northeast, proposed a year ago that the city relocate city offices to the former Delphi corporate office building on Dana. He proposed a scaled-back $4.3 million deal, but DiPaolo has yet to start renovations, and the location is two-thirds of a mile north of downtown.
The Gibson Building is at 258 E. Market St., about two blocks east of Courthouse Square. The Social Security Administration leases the first floor of the Gibson Building and is expected to remain there while the city uses the second and third floors and the basement.
Councilman James Valesky, who blocked council from approving the purchase a week ago by demanding three readings of the legislation, said he believes he did the right thing: “We brought out a few questions that had not been answered that I believe now have been answered.”
Council recently authorized the city to sell bonds for up to $3 million to purchase the Gibson Building, another $2.5 million for residential road repairs and $4 million to renovate existing city buildings.
Brown said he views the purchase of the Gibson building as a better option than an earlier proposal to spend $10 million to construct a new OneStop building to house city offices.
“In the long run, it’s a good building; we make a profit [from the existing lease], and it will be our OneStop, where people can get permits and that sort of thing.”