An agreement between Newville and a South Middleton Township couple could initiate construction on the borough’s new municipal building as soon as Aug. 8, after approval of a few resolutions and some final signatures.
Richard and Ann Gobin of South Middleton Township donated the land to the borough in December and will pay for the construction of the one-story pre-engineered steel structure.
“He’s going to pay the contractor directly out of his funds and the building is going to be erected on our property that he’s already given us,” Borough Solicitor Marcus McKnight III said. “The arrangement is that since he’s liquidating funds and losing income by doing that, we’re going to pay him $4,000 per month to $48,000 per year for just interest, but the arrangement is that when both he and his wife have passed away, our obligation to pay those funds will end.”
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Borough Manager Fred Potzer said in March that the current municipal building has issues with parking and a lack of space, but it’s the “generous” arrangement of the Gobins that allowed the borough to consider the new building’s construction.
An “agreement without teeth”
Resolutions required before the agreement receives its final signatures stem from an offer Richard Gobin presented during the council’s Tuesday night meeting.
Gobin told the borough that if it faces problems keeping up with the $4,000 monthly payments there would be “no problem” and that he’s willing to work with it.
McKnight referred to the arrangement during the meeting as “an agreement without teeth,” in which the borough would pay Gobin when he tells them to without repercussions.
Near the end of the meeting, Gobin offered additional funding to aid the borough in its payments on the building.
“It’s important to me and I think for them too, that once we’re headed down this road that the road be somewhat paved and smooth, not bumpy, not to where Newville wonders where the funds are coming from, and it’s secured to get this done without any additional sacrifices for the borough,” Gobin said.
“What he offered … is he would give some additional gifts to the borough so that we could have a fund set up to help defer some of the costs or have money in case we get into a cash flow crunch, we’d have money in reserve that he himself is giving us,” McKnight said. “We don’t know exactly how much that is yet, but it’s a very generous offer.”
Potzer said it’s possible that the money could go into a reserve for cash flow issues, but that its imperative that the additional money Gobin offered Tuesday go to the debt services of the municipal building.
“Certainly that’s a matter for council to digest and decide upon at a later meeting,” Potzer said. “I think it was a lot for them to deal with … they heard it for the first time, the members of the council and the solicitor were hearing that for the first time.”
McKnight said the council authorized Council President Scott Penner and Secretary/Treasurer Jody Hoffman to sign the agreement, and because the changes including the additional gifted funds will benefit the borough, he doesn’t anticipate there to be any issues.
According to McKnight, the agreement will likely be signed within the next week before construction crews break ground.
Construction and costs
Construction is expected to take about eight months to complete, Potzer said, using an estimate he received from construction company Galbraith Pre-Design Inc.
With the possibility of construction beginning the week of Aug. 8, the building could be completed by springtime.
The total cost of the land, building construction and other soft expenses for the Gobins falls at approximately $1,956,000, Richard Gobin said at Tuesday’s meeting.
He also said he refused at least two offers from private developers that would have closed the site to the public. In giving the property to the borough, Gobin said he also granted the borough right-a-way on any property that he and his wife own to include a walking trail to Laughlin Mill and keep the site around the municipal building open for public use.
Gobin said he has lived in South Middleton Township for about 29 years and in Carlisle for 32 years. He said he has “sentimental” and “soft” feelings for Newville and its residents.
“In 1959, I student-taught at Big Spring School District,” Gobin said. “I was impressed with what I saw. I also saw other needs. It’s probably about 15 years ago I went before council for approval to build Big Spring Pharmacy. They did not know me from Adam. They accepted me and my engineer. I lived up to everything I said, they supported me and I feel it’s extremely important that Newville has what they need.”
“I also feel as individuals, my wife and I, we’re put on the earth for a purpose and hopefully when we leave this planet, we will leave it better than we found it,” Gobin said.
While Gobin’s offer of additional funds came at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, concerns were raised Tuesday night and at earlier council meetings about the building’s construction.
Some centered around the borough’s half-mill tax increase in this year’s budget (which runs from January to December) to finance a new municipal building. This increase that would generate about $45,000 to $46,000 per year, Potzer said in March. The increase would be tied to the life of the mortgage and will disappear when that mortgage is forgiven, Croutch said in March.
Borough resident Sharpe Over on Tuesday expressed concern that the borough couldn’t afford a new building and that the cost would hurt them in the future.
Over and others in attendance raised questions as to why the area couldn’t be turned into a park instead.
“This is going to cost us, and Newville is not rich,” Over said. “We’ve got wonderful people and I’d rather see Newville spend money for the people that they could enjoy it … not just a municipal building that’s going to really hurt us down the road.”
He said he gathered 135 signatures of those in agreement in June, going mainly to residents of the borough’s South Ward. Over said only eight people that he spoke to didn’t sign.
“A lot of them said do we need one,” he said of the new municipal building. “And then a lot of them said a park would be nice.”
Over said there aren’t many properties along a creek in Newville or anywhere else that can be enjoyed.
“Mr. Gobin is kind and it’s nice of him to offer this, but it’s going to hurt Newville in the end,” Over said.
As for the current municipal building at 4 West St., Potzer said an appraisal was completed two months ago and no decisions have been made on selling it.
In previous months, Potzer has mentioned the possibility of converting the building into a police station and said that option is still on the table, though the council’s discussion Tuesday night indicated that ADA improvements could be necessary in that location.
“The council members have all received and reviewed an appraisal and they’re considering the options for the building,” Potzer said.
Maddie Seiler is a news reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com covering Carlisle and Newville. You can contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at: @SeilerMadalyn