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St. Joseph County to get new boilers as officials weigh future at County-City Building

Hoping to prevent future leaks and burst pipes that resulted in closures at the County-City Building earlier this year, St. Joseph County officials are looking to appropriate funds for new boilers.

County building engineers said $1 million is needed since the current boilers can no longer reliably handle cold snaps like ones in January which closed the County-City building and courthouses. The current equipment appears to be as old as the building which was completed in 1967.

That money would come from the county’s rainy day fund and will be voted on at the next council meeting.

The immediate need for new boilers comes as County Commissioners decide what to do with the County-City Building long term. Commissioners President Carl Baxmeyer told the council on Tuesday that the county will use the building in some capacity going forward.

“I don’t see any way, based on the numbers we’re seeing, that we can abandon this building entirely,” Baxmeyer said. “The question in my mind is do we renovate the entire building or move somewhere else and not renovate 6-14 right now.”

Baxmeyer's comments echo the report from consulting firm DLZ, who commissioners hired to evaluate their options with the aging structure. The firm said the county can build a new government center elsewhere, renovate the whole building, renovate only floors two through four, or only replace critical infrastructure and mechanical systems.

Based on DLZ's findings, Baxmeyer said the cost of demolishing the building is too high, which means that the county will pay to renovate top to bottom and then continue to use the building. Alternatively, if only the first five floors are renovated, some county workers like the prosecutor's and clerk's office staff will likely stay, while the rest of the government will move to a new space.

The city of South Bend currently shares some space in the County-City building but is planning to move out to the current South Bend School Corporation Headquarters.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.