NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Sept. 5, 2023) – Site work is about to begin for the facility that will eliminate the long lines early voters have encountered in past elections.
Tuscarawas County leaders are using almost $5-million in American Rescue Plan money to construct a new elections office and multi-purpose building at 933 East High Avenue. Mayor Joel Day praised county commissioners and voting officials during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site this morning.
“You’ve worked a long time to get to this point, and we really appreciate it. We greatly appreciate the fact it’s in New Philadelphia, that it’s on the East end of town. This will help revive this end of town, too, with people coming here.”
Chris Abbuhl was one of the three commissioners who authorized the work, which he sees as an investment in the community and its residents.
“The only way it would be possible is to have to ask taxpayers for dollars, so the opportunity was there… We wanted to have long-term, sustainable projects, and this is one that was needed for a long time.”
The first crews are due to arrive next week to begin excavation for the foundation of the 17,000-square-foot building that’s expected to open in late 2024. Board of Elections Director Gail Garbrandt is excited to show off the facility, which she says will have room for all of their equipment, an on-site training area, plenty of parking space, and a neighborhood park out back.
“There was a huge focus on making this not institutional-looking because it is in a neighborhood so there has been thoughtful consideration by [Architect] John Piccard and his team on the lighting outside so it’s subdued and not glaring, and that park in the back is going to be great. It’s going to have playground equipment on it for kids and picnic tables.”
The commissioners hoped to break ground back in June but had to increase the budget and rebid the project because of the high cost of labor and materials. The facility is expected to take around a year to build, although Garbrandt doubts it will be ready in time for the Presidential Election next November.