We must either build a new structure or make a major investment in the current building.
What are the current options?
There are two options available to us. The first is to build a new Community Town Hall. If the overall vote is “no,” we will have to consider serious construction needed at the current Town Hall facility.
What are the benefits of building a new Community Town Hall?
Voting “Yes” to a new Community Town Hall will allow us to create a modest, one-story space from which our staff can continue to serve the community. It would be easily accessible by everyone, including the elderly and the disabled. In addition, as the Gateway to Ontario County, we would now have a location that would be available for public use while also welcoming visitors. The meeting room would be available for Scouts ceremonies, banquets, cookouts, after-hours school events, reunions, and bridal or baby showers.
Where would the new Community Town Hall be built?
A town-owned, two-acre lot adjacent to Michael Prouty Memorial Park would serve as the building site. Since the town already purchased this lot in 1999, we would not have to spend any additional funds on land for building, and it will not take away any land from the park itself. The new Community Town Hall would also offer the additional benefit of providing a restroom for Prouty Park users.
Would these same benefits be made available utilizing the current site?
No. The costs of repairs and new construction on the existing Town Hall site would only make it functional. It would still not be a community-use building, nor offer a public restroom for the park.
What has been done to reduce the cost of a new Community Town Hall?
In years past, cost was presented to us as a concern. We have made many changes to design a simple building to meet West Bloomfield’s needs. Current estimates are about 33% less costly than before. We’ve chosen town-owned land for the building site. We’ve reduced the building model in size and square footage, and we are looking into using reasonably-priced and long-lasting building materials, as well. We’ve agreed to share court facilities with the Town of East Bloomfield, saving space and at least $150,000. We have also minimized the number and size of private offices, reducing the square footage by over 3,000 square feet. We’re discussing postponing paving the parking lot until a future date, if necessary. We are also planning to incorporate a zoned heating and cooling system to keep utility costs as low as possible throughout the year.
What is the expected cost of the proposed new Community Town Hall?
The expected net investment from our community in a new Community Town Hall would probably be less than $600,000 out of a total gross investment of between $1 and $1.14 million, a reduction of at least 33% from the last proposal offered six years ago. The much smaller investment from the community will be gained from utilizing $250,000 in the town’s building fund and an expected $350,000 in New York State grants. Also, costs can be spread across 15 years, giving us a competitive, long-term interest rate. As a result, building a new structure will allow us to avoid an increase in property tax rates at least in 2019, if not beyond.
Can we continue using the current Town Hall building as is?
No, the current Town Hall building is a simple aluminum structure. It was originally intended to serve only as a temporary solution when it was first utilized as the Town Hall 8 years ago. Remaining at this facility would be costly. The double wide trailer would have to be replaced by an up-to-code building with an acceptable septic system, requiring land needed by the Highway Department. Modification to the Highway Garage truck bay would be necessary. Current parking issues would continue. There would be no community meeting space. The roof requires replacement. Areas of the building must be reconstructed for ease of public access. These are only some of the changes that must be made. Also, renovation does not qualify for longer term borrowing, so short-term, higher-interest borrowing would result in a loan that must be repaid in 5 to 6 years rather than 15 years. Therefore, completing all the work and creating a structure necessary to remain at our current Town Hall site would very likely cause a property tax increase.
Is it possible for the Town Hall to move back into its previous building?
No. The space which housed the Town Hall before moving to its current location was sold in 2011 and no longer belongs to the town. Returning to it is not possible.
Is there a third, no-cost solution?
No. We do not have the option of doing nothing. A “No” vote on the proposed new Community Town Hall will not result in no investment. We are faced with the choice of either considering overhauls and construction at the existing Town Hall site or creating a new Community Town Hall building.
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Questions and comments will be addressed at our upcoming town meetings. See the town meeting dates.