by Rick Langenberg:
Green Mountain Falls residents may see glimpses of their $350,000-plus town hall in early 2014, nearly two years after an arson fire completely destroyed their former historic municipal headquarters. However, elected leaders are still somewhat split on whether to construct a two or one-story structure, or the exact size of the new facility that will house most city offices. Unless a final deal can’t be worked out, the new town hall will be located on property adjacent to its current temporary site at the Joyland Church facility, known as the Elk Crossing.
Last week, the town’s board of trustees agreed to move-up the schedule to give potential architects more time to develop detailed plans. A final contract award will occur in early June. Concrete plans are important, as the town hopes to snag a large energy and mineral impact grant from the state Department of Local Affairs.
If that grant falls through, then town leaders may have to go back to the drawing board and alter their project plans. Based on insurance monies and other contributions, the town has between $150,000 and $200,000 of potential money it could invest into the project. However, based on the land sale and construction costs, it needs at least $350,000 to complete the type of project currently envisioned by city leaders.
Most city officials and leaders are optimistic about the project, but concede that it won’t happen overnight. Plus, the city isn’t under any pressure to move from their current temporary location at the Joyland Church facility, near the west entrance of town.“I think most people will be pretty happy with the plans we are coming up with,” said Trustee Jane Newberry, the town’s public information officer for the project. During last week’s city council meeting, the board declined to specify whether it wanted a facility with one or two stories, or if it sought to nail down a definite space requirement. Preliminary concept plans have indicated that the town government needs close to 2,100-square feet to mostly accommodate the marshal and clerk’s offices, a court room, meeting area, restrooms and additional amenities. If the city does add an extra story, it could rent out part of the space, or even plan for future growth.
But long-time resident and former trustee and mayor Dick Bratton strongly opposed this idea. “You should ask for what you need,” said Bratton, who urged the trustees to stick to a one-story plan. “Be realistic and be honest.”
Otherwise, Bratton fears that DOLA won’t fund the project. “If you go for too much, you will lose the whole thing,” added Bratton, who also urged the board to be more specific in its request for proposals regarding the size of the facility. Planning Commission Chairman Dave Kosley, who has been strongly involved in orchestrating the meetings on the project, agreed with these sentiments, saying a one-story facility is sufficient for the town’s needs. Newberry cited a one-story facility as the preferred choice during a recent public hearing on the project.
But some trustees last week didn’t want the town leaders to restrict their options. Trustee and former mayor Tyler Stevens stated that an argument could be made that a two-story structure would be more aesthetically-pleasing. He refrained, though, from supporting either a one or two-story project, and preferred to see what architects come up with. “Somewhere down the road, GMF is going to expand,” said Trustee Mac Pitrone. He believes the second-story option should be explored further, even if a final project only includes a one-story building.
In any case, the new town hall will occupy space that will represent more than twice as much as what officials had to work with before inside their historic 19th century building in back of the post office. That town hall was completely destroyed, following an arson fire in January 2012. The fire instigators, who were from Colorado Springs, were promptly apprehended and are now serving significant jail time for their crimes. According to the proposed timeline developed by town officials, August 1 is the big D-Day. That’s when plans by a chosen architect and a grant request must be submitted to DOLA. To help facilitate the project,. Clay Brown, a representative of DOLA will attend the board’s next meeting on May 7. Brown played a big role in some of the major infrastructure projects undertaken in Victor that involved state funds.
The town hopes to close on the town hall land sale for an acre and a half of property, located next to the Joyland Church facility, in mid-December. If plans move forward, ground-breaking on the new town hall could occur in early 2014.