The county’s acquisition of the Talon property came about under the previous board of commissioners and it stirred some controversy.
The previous board of commissioners at public meetings entered into several options to buy the site, citing the possibility of using it to expand courthouse offices they claimed were overcrowded and outdated. Then, on Feb. 28, 2011, without presenting a plan to the public or announcing a meeting to discuss the matter, the commissioners exercised the option to buy the building. After the Tribune raised questions about the legality of the commissioners entering into a contract without a formal public meeting or vote, the three retroactively and unanimously voted to purchase the property March 3, 2011, at a public meeting.
At the time, Commissioner Chairman Morris Waid and Commissioner Jack Preston, who had previously announced their intention to retire, and Commissioner C. Sherman Allen, who was successful in his re-election bid and remains a commissioner today, said they were not sure the county would use the building but that they wanted to secure the site and undertake a study.
The move drew some criticism as the Meadville Redevelopment Authority unsuccessfully had sought a buyer for the site for many years and the last private owner failed, handing the property back to the authority.
Next the county hired the Weber, Murphy, Fox engineering and design firm to design several alternatives for courthouse expansion, including use of the Talon site, expanding the current courthouse, splitting between the two and building at a new site.
A Community Advisory Committee of unpaid volunteers was appointed by the former board of commissioners to study the options and make a recommendation. Ultimately, the CAC recommended renovating the Talon site and splitting county government operations between there and the current courthouse on Diamond Park at a projected cost of $25.3 million. The CAC took its recommendation on the road for a series of public presentations that ended in late March 2012.
Talon site costs
$117,036.18 Weber Murphy Fox (architectural and consultant fees)
$145,105.98 expenditures on building (utilities, insurance, other costs)
$304,308.23 capital projects (building purchase includes $70,000 in options)
$566,450.39 total expenses
Net cost 2011
$497,283.66 Weber Murphy Fox (architectural and consultant fees)
$176,692.48 expenditures on building (utilities, insurance, other costs)
$362,186.60 capital projects (building demolition including hazardous material removal)
Net cost 2012
Total net cost (2011 and 2012)