by Rick Langenberg:
Even with a new group of elected leaders and a vastly different leadership philosophy than their predecessors, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees are ready to cut the ribbon on the $800,000 town hall project.
Last week, in a special pubic workshop, the board firmed up their plans and schedule for the new 2,800-square-foot facility that should be completed by mid-September. The new town hall building, which will be located adjacent to Joyland Church, will also include an access road and a parking lot. Already, some preliminary dirt work has been done on the site, as one of the initial challenges consists of leveling a 14-foot area.
Planning and preparation for the new facility has been ongoing since Green Mountain Falls lost its historic, quaint, 19th century town hall during a devastating arson fire in the winter of 2012. A temporary town hall area was established at the Joyland Church facility. As a result of the fire, the GMF town hall project has received much support from state officials and local leaders, who see the forthcoming facility as a healing process for the town and a way to bring the community together.
The final building contract was approved recently by the former board, with Mayor Lorrie Worthy expressing some reservations over signing the paper work. This sparked another feud between the mayor and former Interim Town Manager Rob McArthur, who resigned the following day.
But in a workshop last Friday, Worthey displayed much enthusiasm regarding the new town hall and vowed to keep GMF citizens informed regarding the progress of the project. And prior to the workshop, the new board members and the mayor conducted a brief site visit, led by the head architect Robert Seever of Keystone Associates. Besides Seever, the contract team consists of Ed Green Construction, Lamb Plumbing and Excavating and Project Manager Ken Murphy.
Last week’s workshop mostly dealt with procedural matters for doing the work and implementing measures to protect the site.
Several contractors cited concerns over safety, security and preventing large groups of people from touring the area. “It is dangerous,” said Murphy, who warned the trustees of possible lawsuits if individuals got hurt while trying to view the pending work.
As for the board’s involvement, Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Stevens was recommended as the prime town government representative to deal with the project’s progress and to work with the various contactors. His designated role, though, can’t be affirmed until the board conducts a regular meeting in early May.
Trustee Michael Butts, the new GMF Treasurer, will review the financial aspects of the project, according to preliminary plans discussed last week.
According to Seever, the total project cost is $794,000, with these monies coming from the Colorado Division of Local Affairs, insurance funds and private donations. The actual town hall building is estimated to cost about $500,000. Luckily, no monies had to be budgeted from the Green Mountain Falls town budget.
Last week, Seever didn’t see any problems with the overall project budget, unless the work somehow exceeds the $794,000 amount. Then, the town would have to foot the remaining funds or come up with an alternative funding source.
Based on last week’s workshop discussion, town leaders will have regular business meetings on Tuesdays regarding the town hall project, with occasional site visits conducted on Friday afternoons. But again, the project contractors stressed the importance of not having 30 or 40 people tour the area.
Attorney Matt Krob cited the fact that the project team wants to avoid installing a protective fence, as that could delay the facility construction.
During the informal tour, drainage, landscaping and certain infrastructure details were presented as some of the initial challenges. The contractors don’t expect any foundation excavation to occur for at least several weeks.
The town also will have a ground-braking on the site shortly.
Despite tensions between the mayor and several former trustees, the new town hall project appears to have garnered the support of the newly-elected board. In recent months, some residents have expressed concerns over the project costs, saying it is much more elaborate than what the town had previously.
But in a previous interview, McArthur stressed that the final town hall plans were quite modest. He also cited studies indicating that the old town hall and marshal’s office were completely inadequate facilities as early as the 1980s.
Seever, who cited the previous contributions of former Trustee Mac Pitrone said the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department is a “big ally of the project.” He doesn’t expect any problems in obtaining building permits for the facility and in securing utility service to the site.
The new facility will contain a 600-square-foot area for the marshal’s office, with the remaining 1,800 square-foot area for the clerk/municipal functions and meeting areas.