Inside Look:  Orion Township Hall Nearing Completion

Inside Look:  Orion Township Hall Nearing Completion

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 21, 2021)

Orion Township, MI – Excitement is growing around Orion Township Hall as about 40 employees, plus those who protect and serve in Oakland County Sheriff’s office substation, look forward to moving into their new space.

Orion Township supervisor Chris Barnett gave a preview tour of the future township hall and Sheriffs substation for members of the media Monday afternoon. The project is expected to be completed by the end of October, and an open house for the public is anticipated before the holidays, once the staff gets settled in.

“We’re on budget, which is crazy considering COVID, all the work shortages.  Costs of the trades has been astronomical, steel shortages, lumber… We had all these things showing that we shouldn’t even be close to on schedule or on budget, and the fact that we are is remarkable,” Barnett said.

The new township hall sits on 76 acres of land that the Township was able to trade with Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a different piece of property. Barnett explained that the Township purchased land in Oakland Township to use as a bartering chip with the state.  The approximate six acres helped the DNR create a connection to the Paint Creek Trail and in exchange they gave Orion the 76 acre property on what will be known as 2323 Joslyn Road.  The transaction for the land cost about $200,000, mainly in legal fees, appraisal cost, and transaction fees, Supervisor Barnett said.

Much of the property has natural wetlands and wooded areas, though where the buildings are being erected the land was most recently leased out for cornfields, meaning that clearing the land was easy and didn’t require removing large trees.  While there may be a park area added towards the front of the property, Barnett said there are no plans to upset the nature remaining on the property.

All that land means fantastic views for employees, as well as easy access to parks and trails for staff as well as visitors.

“We designed everything to be around nature,” Barnett said. He explained that there was ample debate over whether to connect the two buildings, but they left it open so that there could be an entryway to the Polly Ann Trail which runs at the back of the property.

The windows of the building give generous views of the surrounding nature and lots of natural light. Employees will be able to use a dining area and an area where they can work and work out at the same time, that overlooks the serenity outside. In the area where the public comes in to meet with the various departments, there are also large windows and high ceilings with rich timber beams to bring the feel of nature into the space.

But in addition to the aesthetics, much care was given to things like workflow, employee satisfaction, amenities for the public and for staff, as well as gathering places for meetings.

The hall itself features 100 seats with rooms for overflow and large screens in the public area for those that want to watch should a meeting be particularly packed.

There are also seven conference rooms, each with a different table and seating arrangements so that work groups can find the space that best fits their needs. A conference room in the middle is available for community groups and those who want to rent the space.

As a public enters, they will be greeted by somebody at the main counter, who can direct them to the various departments or assist them with their needs. The offices will be behind the counter, connected by a hallway that isn’t accessible by the general public. 

Another perk is an increased amount of storage space, with a basement that is too large to meet their current needs by a good 8,000 square feet, giving them a centralized location for documents and records, as well as room to grow.

The Sheriffs Office Substation will be a step up in several ways, providing employees with more locker space, and a comfortable room for dining and relaxing when they are not out on the road.

Plus there are additional safety features, including a Sally Port.  Sally Ports get their name from medieval castle designs and battle strategy. But for contemporary police departments it simply means having a garage which allows them to drive patrol vehicles into a secured area before transporting arrestees to and from the vehicle.  This adds an extra layer of safety for the officers and those in their care.

Township leaders traveled to several other municipal buildings to get ideas to bring back to Orion Township for the buildings’ design and amenities.

“It was all the department heads, we went to Rochester Hills, Novi, Canton, Westland, and Farmington Hills,” Barnett said. “We had little clipboards and each director got to chime in on things they liked and didn’t like about them… I think the main things were just having clearly defined public space, and then workspace, and this open office concept – people really liked that. Right now we’re all really chopped up, like if I want to go to the Treasure’s office, I gotta go out and down the hall. You can’t easily work together.”

The current building, which was constructed in 1974 with an addition put on in the 1990s, will be demolished to make way for expanding the park, most likely with volleyball courts in the space.  The building, which has problems with flooding, mold, rust, and structural damage, will be torn down by the end of the year.  An auction company will help make the most of remaining assets such as doors, fixtures, desks, etc.  According to a fact sheet by the Township, repairing the existing building would have cost $10.1 million, while the new construction would be $11.7 million.

Barnett has been visiting the building nearly every day, and there have been monthly updates on the project to keep residents informed. Some employees have gotten sneak peaks as well. “The offices are really nice. They walk through and they are like giddy… everyone wants to see where their office is,” he said.  The media preview, he hopes, will help satisfy the curiosity of the community, as there are many following along with the progress.

“We’re looking forward to opening up and having the public come in once we’re all moved in. This is their building, and I think people are going to like it,” he said.

For more information on the project visit Orion Township’s Municipal Complex page.

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