The ongoing construction plan of a Community Center was almost the exclusive topic of discussion at the monthly meeting of the Staunton Town Council on Monday.
The first 45 minutes of the 90-minute discussion focused on a wide array of tasks, such as building costs, location, potential parking problems and design with very little specific direction coming from the discussions. Unsatisfied with the progress the discussions were bringing, Community Center Steering Committee Chairman Matthew Reed took matters into his own hands.
Reed brought in a model of a scaled down, "Green" Center he had designed. Inspired by a design he saw at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Reed "presented a concept" he thought could lead to accelerated progress in the building design.
For starters, his prototype building was 2,622 square feet, opposed to the original design of 6,600 square feet. In addition to costs, Reed said the environmentally friendly building would last longer without needing repairs.
Reed also said he had conducted surveys throughout the town and said found many people wanted a smaller center.
Reed said he found many of the potential activities done in the building, such as reunions and wedding receptions, would be able to utilize the scaled back building.
Grant Administrator Shannon McLeod said that if the building wasn't able to accommodate certain function, other locations, such as the fairgrounds, could.
Reed said a rough estimated cost for the building was between $250,000-$315,000, but said that was not a guaranteed price. Though he wasn't for sure on the final total, Reed said his design would fall well short of the approximately $750,000 for the original design. The maximum sized grant the state would provide for the project is $500,000.
Reed was told to take his design to architect Dan Sanders of Sanders and Associates, Terre Haute, to see if the design was feasible.
Another problem discussed with the potential site, which is tentatively located at 101 N. Monroe St., is potential problems with parking. There was only so much allowable space at the site for parking and the concern was raised they would not be able to accommodate bigger events. While nothing has been finalized, suggestions included coordinating space with a nearby church, or organizing a shuttle service for people unable to obtain parking.
Another major issue was a potential raise in property taxes. Jeff Buell, a town citizen, brought up a recent $3 million water project that raised water costs for the town. Buell said he was worried the building of the center could create another property tax hike and said "that wouldn't fly." McLeod said she and the town were "adamently opposed" to raising property tax and she did not forsee a tax hike forthcoming if the project did progress.
Despite all the potential problems surrounding the project, McLeod said she thought there was no reason the project couldn't move forward. She said the next step is making sure actual progress gets made.
"We've been doing a lot of talking for six months and haven't got a lot accomplished," McLeod said. "I think the community wants to see the building. I want to see some action."
A proposal for the planned site is due on Jan. 16, 2009. McLeod said the board would be looking to acquire a Community Focus Fund Grant, which needs to be done by March 13.