FACS set to move into new digs

Family and Children’s Services here is planning to relocate from its current address at 450 Scott St. to the renovated westernmost portion of the old Fort Frances High School (260 First St. East) at the end of the month.
“We’re excited. We’re very pleased with how the work is turning out on the outside,” FACS executive director Vik Nowak said Tuesday.
“And it looks great on the inside,” he added.
“We’re hopeful we won’t have to close down during that time. It will be a staggered process,” remarked Nowak. “We’re going to try and minimize the disruption.”
The move is expected to start June 28 and be completed by the end of that week. Phone lines should be switched over on June 30.
Nowak added FACS will make every effort it can to let the public know when they should start going to the new location to access their services.
FACS will be occupying the main and top floors of the building while the lower level currently is vacant.
Nowak said FACS already has sublet out some office space to Integrated Services Northwest on the main floor. ISN is the “intake service” people go through before being referred on to FACS.
Nowak stressed the new offices are handicap accessible, with a ramp at the main entrance, an elevator going to all three floors, and even light switches installed at a lower level for those in wheelchairs.
Just this week, FACS also requested the town approve and designate three handicap parking spaces in front the building.
FACS has been at its current Scott Street location for more than 20 years, and Nowak noted back in December—when news of the move was first reported—that the decision not to sign another lease for that building was by no means a quick one.
“The building committee was struck about a year ago. The purpose of it was to examine all the alternatives and see what would be the best thing for us to do,” he said at that time, noting the nine-member committee consisted of FACS board members, staff, and management.
“We worked very hard over the last year [2003]. We consulted architects, engineers, and lawyers,” Nowak remarked. “Different parties expressed interest in our situation and so we asked them for proposals.
“Sometime in November, these were brought before the committee.”
Wanting to use a “rational, fair, and objective” means of deciding what to do, the building committee utilized a list of 20 criteria, such as lease rates, space efficiency, location, and accessibility.
“The committee then weighted them according to their degree of importance,” Nowak noted, adding the “scored” proposals were fed into a computer, which then “spit out” a final score.
“The whole process revealed a clear consensus. All committee members felt the same way—we should go to this location [the old high school],” said Nowak.
That recommendation then was presented to the FACS board, which made revisions to it and ultimately approved the relocation.
The old Fort High property is being re-developed by Russell Pollard, Charlie Morken, and Steve Both.
Both confirmed last Thursday that the renovated portion of the building should be ready for FACS by the end of the month, but declined to comment on future plans for the rest of the property at this time.