Finding the ‘function and form’ in town hall relocation | SierraSun.com

Finding the ‘function and form’ in town hall relocation

Christina Nelson

Although a “one-stop shopping” joint-agency government center may not become a reality, the Truckee Town Council will push ahead with ideas for town government facilities in a more central location.

Although the council wants to create more “civic presence” in town, most questioned what form that presence would take.

“I think it’s fair to say there was a broad view in terms of that question,” Councilman Josh Susman said at the Feb. 6 council meeting.

When town hall was set up at its current site, the town council decided that it would be a temporary move. Now, after the Town Hall Site Selection Committee finished its work, the council decided to continue with public outreach on the project and to explore options that would create civic presence that didn’t include the government complex.

John Ashworth of BSA Architects gave a presentation of the findings of the committee, and presented the five preferred sites for a new town hall.

Ashworth also presented preliminary research of agencies and groups that may be interested in sharing such a facility. Some interested agencies include the Nevada County Library, the fire district, the U.S. Forest Service, the school district, the recreation district and the post office.

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If multiple users signed on to the project, the cost of a new town hall would decrease from $75 million to $59 million.

“That’s assuming everyone is coming to the party, which is a somewhat unlikely scenario,” Ashworth said.

Most residents who spoke out against the move cited the cost of the new building as a reason for not moving forward with the project.

Joe Burns, representing the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, noted that members of his organization like town hall as it is now because it’s easily accessible.

But others felt that the concept of civic presence is important for the town council to pursue.

“Think about vision, think about community and think about things that are difficult to visualize as you sit up there with your reports,” said former-councilwoman Maia Schneider.

She said a complex like this would serve the community as a centralized place where people could come together for events, and encouraged the council to embrace a “long-terms vision of what our community might be.”

Truckee resident Bob Tamietti encouraged the council to look at partners in private industry to help build the complex.

“There are a lot of good reasons not to do it and most of them have a dollar sign in front of them,” Tamietti said. “There’s also a lot of good reasons to do it.”

Council members agreed that the idea needs to be pursued more, and the concept of civic presence needs to be defined.

“My feeling on it is, in the civic presence category, do we need our civic presence to be government presence?” said Councilwoman Beth Ingalls.

“The town hall out here is functioning,” Susman said. “I think the question being raised is ‘What is the form?'”