The $3 million complex — a project more than 15 years in the making — will house village offices including council chambers, conference/meeting rooms, handicapped-accessible and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant facilities, the police department and even a drive-up window for administrative business.
But it appeared village officials now view the new municipal building as an epicenter for re-establishing Monroeville from a speed-trap into what village administrator Tom Gray called “a major waypoint.”
During a special meeting in the elementary school cafeteria last week, Mayor Fries-Seip, village officials and council members shared their vision of returning Monroeville into a destination, with the renovation and repurposing of dilapidated structures, the expansion of sidewalks and pathways and renewed advertising efforts to highlight attractions that can only be found in Monroeville. Fries-Seip described its citizens and volunteers as “good, quality people that do many wonderful things” in the village.
Before introducing Gray, Fries-Seip briefly shared the advantages of the municipal building and the three-phase initiative. That inititiative consists of improved town business and public safety in centrally-located village offices with the complex’s construction, tearing down the current, old police station and village beautification.
Gray began by discussing village-wide services like tree trimming and leaf pick-up, followed by ways that alternative energy sources and environmental consciousness and protections are affecting Monroeville’s citizens.
“We (Monroeville) lead the way on green energy, this is important,” he said.
The village administrator pointed out the community water supply’s vulnerability and the necessary equipment to track those vulnerabilities with funding by grants.
Using the village’s above-ground reservoir as an example, Gray explained how harmful algal blooms — occurring over bodies of water from direct sunlight — can be remedied by placing solar panels atop the water to block unwelcome elements. In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, he listed environmental equipment solutions such as green-energy-run generators and interconnected water piping as necessary technologies that would protect Monroeville’s access to clean water and electricity.
Speaking on community engagement and public safety, police Chief Gary Lyons said “police work is always changing, and it won’t work without the community.” He shared the challenges of the village’s position as a thoroughfare, through which according to state statistics “an average of 20-to-30 thousand cars and trucks” use daily.
“Watch your speed,” Lyons said starkly, adding that the department’s noticeable presence is a crime deterrent that discourages speeders, impaired drivers and drug traffickers. “Drivers are less likely to speed through Monroeville if they see us making traffic stops. People who are looking to make drug deals will want to go around Monroeville and not through if they know we’re paying attention, and we are.”
Lastly, Fries-Seip praised the village’s attention to the building project.
“I think Monroeville is a wonderful community. I think that this building is going to start a kind of rejuvenation of our downtown, and show it (municipal complex) already has brought people together, and that’s the best thing you can have for a community,” the mayor said.
This is the timeline of the completion of the complex:
• Pre-bids (approving the complex’s construction) - June 4
• Construction bids (for potential contractors) - June 18
• Ground-breaking / start of construction - February 2020