By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Debbie Sutherland wants to continue down the path to having the Village Bicycle Cooperative move into the Community House, even though it will require placing a new fire alarm system in the structure.
“It still makes sense to me to do so,” she said Sept. 28. “It would be a good move for all involved in this – the city and the organization. We want to put the building to good use again, and the co-op needs a good place to stay. This certainly fits that.”
City officials were told at the Sept. 24 City Council meeting that the proposed move of the bicycle co-op into the Community House couldn’t take place until a new fire alarm system is installed that meets city and state fire codes. Fire Chief Chris Lyons estimated the costs for a basic system at about $18,000. Officials noted it was similar to when the Kiddie College moved into another city property – the Bayway Cabin earlier this year. The fire department had also required a new alarm system be put in there as well.
Sutherland said she understands the safety concerns and the possible time delay, but said the project is still worth doing. Officials planned to move the group into an area last occupied several years ago by a senior citizens woodshop group, which did woodworking and community-related projects in the building. Safety concerns by city insurers because of the equipment and materials used in the project prompted the city to have the woodworkers move out. They were eventually relocated into the former police garage area of City Hall, which became open when the police department moved into its own building on Wolf Road.
City finance Director Steve Presley said the co-op wouldn’t prompt the same concern from insurers, noting the lack of wood-cutting equipment and potentially flammable materials.
“We’ve been planning on doing renovations and work in the Community House anyway,” she said. “We want to keep it a viable, active part of the community anyway, and this certainly is a good way to do that – to put in a good organization, which has support and does good things for supporting a good activity like bicycling. We wanted to do those renovations anyway; this would just be another part of that.”
Council members have also expressed support for the move.
Jennifer Smillie, of the co-op, said its members are willing to help fix the structure.