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Spend wisely on city building

Martins Ferry city leaders have some big decisions to make in the near future.

Early this month, bricks, mortar and other chinks of the city building’s facade came tumbling to the ground. This sort of thing has happened in the past, and officials should only expect the issues to get worse with the passage of time.

Fortunately, no one was injured and no property was damaged by the falling debris. The material fell from the back side of the structure, forcing the closure of a portion of one street and a city-owned parking lot behind the building.

An inspection by Kalkreuth Roofing revealed that the roof is damaged as well. The company is now working to compile an estimated cost for repairing all of the damage.

Without that information, council could not make a decision on how to proceed when members gathered for a regular neeting on Wednesday. Still, Mayor John Davies pointed out that council members need to start thinking about their options.

During the meeting, Davies asked councilmen and women to consider three possibilities: buy or lease another structure to serve as a municipal building; try to rehabilitate the current facility; or, perhaps, build a new city building.

While Councilman Bruce Shrodes said he would hate to move because of damage to just one portion of the structure, Councilman Jack Regis Sr. pointed out that erecting a new building might be more cost-effective in the long run.

Council members need to take many factors into account as they work toward a decision on the future of the facility. First, of course, they must find out how much the needed repairs will cost.

In addition to that figure, however, they need to take a realistic look at the entire building and determine how well it serves the public. For one thing, the historic structure has several offices and its council chamber on its second floor. That means they are inaccessible to anyone with a handicap or difficulty climbing stairs, since there is no elevator in the building.

They also must think about public opinion. The people of the Purple City are filled with pride for their community. They appreciate both its advancements and its rich and storied past. Many residents may feel an emotional attachment to the current city building, which has stood on Fifth Street for longer than most — if not all — of them have been alive.

As council and the administration work toward a solution, they should carefully consider all of these aspects of the problem. Once they have cost estimates, they can weigh their various options and make a decision about what is best for the future of the city. As they do, they should let wise use of taxpayer money be their primary guide.

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