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Town Hall costs, feasibility under review

Erich Sommer

Yeah, it’s going to cost a lot, but the savings in the long run could also be substantial.

That was the message from consultants and several members of the Town Hall Site Selection Committee to the 20 or so people in attendance at Tuesday night’s workshop on a future home for town hall.

The town held the workshop to discuss the committee’s efforts to identify possible locations for a new town hall.

BSA Architects of San Francisco, the consultants hired by the town, said depending on the size, number of occupants and location of the building, preliminary estimates for a new Town Hall are as high as $59 million.

“It’s a scary big number,” BSA’s John Ashworth said of the potential costs. “What are the advantages, then, to the taxpayer?”

Ashworth answered his own question by presenting another price tag of $75 million if all agencies identified as possible partners end up building their own separate facilities. Those agencies include the school district, the fire district, the postal service, forest service and even Placer and Nevada counties.

New corporation yards for the town and the Truckee Donner Public Utility District could also be incorporated into the complex.

“The potential for savings is enormous,” said BSA’s David Ross.

Shared facilities could also reduce the amount of floor space that some agencies said they would need in a separate facility.

For instance, Ashworth said Placer and Nevada County officials stated that they needed 25,000 square feet apiece for a new courtroom. However, if such a facility was shared, the counties could make due with one 35,000 square-foot facility, in turn reducing estimated construction costs from $18 million to $12 million for new courtrooms alone.

The bulk of the projected savings would be realized from reduced costs in site work and infrastructure improvements that each agency would have to do at their respective sites, Ashworth said.

Once completed, the agencies could share conference rooms, bathrooms, council chambers, parking spaces and even a cafeteria.

Ross said a joint facility could also save land that is quickly becoming a premium in fast-growing Truckee.

However, not all members agreed with the need for a new town hall.

Hugh Williams, a local real estate agent, repeatedly spoke out against the government megamall.

“I am strongly opposed to moving a town hall, which I think, works nicely now,” he said. “This building could last a considerable amount of time.”

Williams also questioned the number of agencies that are seriously considering partnering in a new town hall.

“Who really are the joint users … It’s kind of interesting that the park and rec. district and the school district aren’t here tonight.”

Williams also noted that many of the potential partners are public agencies.

“Any way you slice it, it’s a $50 million project with taxpayer money. I’d like to know if the people of Truckee really want to go there,” Williams asked.

“We don’t know,” answered Councilwoman Maia Schneider, who along with Councilman Don McCormack serves on the committee. “But tonight is not the final yes or no on that question.”

The committee, formed last December, also includes community representatives, local real estate agents, contractors, downtown merchants and representatives from several public agencies considering partnering in a new hall.

The committee has narrowed the list of possible sites from nearly 20 down to five.

Town officials estimate the timeframe for finding a permanent site, designing and constructing a new Town Hall somewhere between five and 10 years.

“We need to be in a position to move if a site becomes available,” McCormack noted.

Currently the town operates out of the building it purchased on Airport Road in June 2000 from Bank of the West for approximately $5.2 million.

A common theme from committee members throughout the night was that they needed feedback from the public to determine if a centralized town hall near downtown is still desired.

“The feedback you give us is critical … how broad spectrum should this project be?” asked committee member Craig Threshie.

The committee is now awaiting a BSA draft report on the five sites and recommendations for next steps.

For more information or to provide impute, call Assistant to the Town Manager Alex Terrazas at 582-7700.

“We are still looking for impute from folks. They can even call me directly,” Terrazas said afterward.


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