This week, construction workers will be building the lumber skeleton of the 13,000-square-foot building, and passersby on Georgia Shore Road can now see the outline of the new space.
Officials have discussed building a new town hall for close to a decade. A study of town facilities published in 2013 laid out problems with the current building’s overflowing vault and the lack of modern accessibility for those looking to go to the zoning department and town manager’s offices. The two locations sit on the second floor and can only be publicly accessed via its main staircase.
The current St. Albans Town Hall, built in the 1890s, also lacks modern heating and cooling systems.
Voters approved building the new hall last March. Expected to cost $4.5 million, the town plans to use $2 million of on-hand cash and borrow the remaining $2.5 million, which will be paid back via a local options tax over a 15-year-period.
Town Manager Carrie Johnson said she’s had questions from the public on when they might receive their “surprise bills” for the building, but she reiterated that residents won’t be seeing new property taxes. Instead, the local options tax applies to everyone — including those who live outside the Town of St. Albans — who do business within the municipality.
“It’s not going to happen,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to say that. The local option tax is a broad based tax that everyone pays,” she said.
At the end of October, workers completed pouring the building’s foundation — including the walls of its fire-safe property record vault. The interior structure had to be poured before the rest of the walls could be assembled around it.
“We’re still required to keep an actual physical copy [of property records] here, and we’re running out of space,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the reasons that we need a town
Officials expect to move into the new building in May. Johnson said discussions are ongoing to identify what’s needed to complete the move.
Benefits of the new building will be increased community space and an upgraded infrastructure. The single ground floor will also make the town hall more accessible for those with mobility issues.
Once completed, the new building is expected to support town staff for at least the next 50 years. Design plans call for high, vaulted ceilings and other architectural features reminiscent of train stations to reflect the town’s past as a railroad town.
Until its completion, residents can expect to see large cranes and trucks on Georgia Shore Road delivering building materials to the active build site.
By Josh Ellerbrock at the St. Albans Messenger. The link to the original article.