When Lake Township officials broke ground for a new administration building, Mark Hummer, township administrator and police chief, told the gathering of about 80 persons, “Brick by brick we will rebuild this township.”
The bricks for the building have been going up at a rapid pace, Hummer said last week, noting construction is on schedule if not ahead and he remains confident the new building will be open by mid-May.
As administrator, he’s been routinely meeting Tuesday mornings at the building site with Rudolph Libbe, Inc., the general contractor, and Normand and Associates, Inc., the architect, to discuss construction details as well as holding impromptu meetings four or five times a week.
“This is a very fast track project with a lot of coordination with the contractor and sub-contractors,” Hummer said. “But it’s been working very well. Rudolph Libbe and Normand are doing a great job. People going by have been shocked by the progress. So far it’s been a positive and good experience.”
The new building is being constructed at the same location, 27975 Cummings Road, as the building destroyed by the tornado but will be slightly larger, covering about 14,183 square feet.
The space in the former building used by the trustees as a meeting room and as a community room will become the garage for emergency medical service vehicles in the new building and will be ringed by living quarters and office space for EMS personnel.
The new meeting/community room will be at the western end of the building and will be about 40 percent larger than the old room and will offer a view of Friendship Park.
“That could be the biggest thing people are going to notice,” Hummer said. “The multi-use room will be much larger and will facilitate events much betters. It’s used a lot by the public for showers, birthdays, and other events as well as community events. The kitchen area will also be enhanced.”
Residents entering the new building for business matters will also see it’s been designed for better service, he said, with separate entrances for those needing assistance from the zoning and street departments and trustees from those needing to meet with police.
A common area inside the front entrance of the old building made it awkward for some crime victims to enter the police offices while an event might be going on in the community room, for example, Hummer said: “We wanted to split public safety from the public service such as administration or zoning. We sometimes have to deal with sensitive issues.”
Energy efficient systems are being incorporated into the design, including the mechanical systems, insulations, lighting, and windows.
The township trustees looked at geothermal heating systems, according to Hummer, but opted to not use that technology largely due to time constraints.
“It wasn’t effective for what we wanted to do,” he said, “Which was to get our facility back together in a timely fashion.”
Wind turbines are not an option for supplying power to the building because of its proximity to the Toledo Executive Airport, he added.
Structures at Friendship Park, including two shelterhouses, restrooms, and gazebos, have been rebuilt and 52 trees that were damaged by the tornado are being replaced, according to Ron Hanely, Lake Township Park Supervisor.
Playground areas are also being refurbished and the area surrounding a pond at the park is being restored.
“The park is usable,” he said, adding improvements to the restrooms bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and new building codes.
One shelter house was completely destroyed and the other had its roof torn off by the tornado, Hanely said.
Volunteers assisted in the rebuilding of the damaged shelter house and installing new equipment on the playgrounds.
One of the gazebos had only been installed less than two weeks before the tornado hit, he said.
At Fireside Park on Ayers Road, soccer goals, fencing, and storage sheds were damaged.
Donations to the township’s park committee that were earmarked for Fireside Park were used to purchase materials for a new storage facility built as a project by a local Boy Scout and area businesses donated another shed.
Hanley said he was moved by the efforts of so many people who volunteered to help with park projects.
Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski and a team of village workers were clearing debris from Friendship Park the morning after the tornado hit.
The Music in the Park program held Fridays during the summer at Friendship Park was moved to the municipal pool grounds in Walbridge, Hanley said, crediting Maureen Jacobsen, a member of village council, for readying the pool area for the program.
“She was instrumental in making sure the pool and restrooms were open for us and making sure we had the electrical service we needed,” he said.
“This whole project has been amazing. People volunteered at Fireside to repair the ball fields. It was phenomenal. The parents organized a baseball game for the kids to give them something to take their minds off what happened and the parents cleared the fields. It’s something I’ll never forget and has always been in my mind. It really shows you what your community is made of,” Hanely said.
Township Fire Chief Todd Walters said there were approximately 111 tornado-related calls from June 5-14.
Fifty-eight fire and emergency medical service departments from throughout northern Ohio were assisting Lake Township crews until June 11, he said.
“Without the help of the other companies we would have been way overwhelmed,” Chief Walters said.