Why is a new Town Hall needed, and why can’t we just renovate the current one?
Conversations around either restoring or replacing the town’s offices have taken place for years. A facilities study published in 2013 found the building’s second floor to be inaccessible and noted space in the town’s vault was “at capacity” even a decade ago.
While that prior study suggested improvements could be made to the St. Albans Town Hall to accommodate the town’s anticipated growth and future development, more recent studies from an appointed infrastructure committee and a hired engineer have recommended the hall’s replacement.
The current Town Hall is inaccessible for those who have movement disabilities, as many of the town’s offices, including its zoning department and the town manager’s office, sit on a second floor accessible only by a single large staircase.
Vault space in the town clerk’s office, where the town holds land records its required to maintain physical copies of under state law, is also nearing capacity, with room for only another year or two of land records left.
The current Town Hall also has electrical, heating and ventilation issues, and little room for additional parking spaces or septic space on the Town Hall’s current property, making future expansion at the town hall a challenge.
How will the proposed new Town Hall address these issues?
Th new Town Hall will be a single-story building with 13,000 square feet of space built on a property along Georgia Shore Road, keeping town offices within the historic St. Albans Bay village area.
The building would be handicap accessible, built in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and be able to accommodate future expansion should town staff need to expand to meet ongoing development and population growth in St. Albans Town.
The proposed Town Hall should be able to support the town’s staff for at least another 50 years.
“This building is one we can take pride in owning, but it doesn’t have many thrills,” St. Albans’s Selectboard chair Brendan Deso said in a recent public letter. “It focuses on needs over wants, which our town has been known for since it was chartered in 1763.”
How will this impact my property taxes?
The short answer is none. The construction costs of a proposed new Town Hall will not impact property taxes at all. The pre-development work and land purchase were paid for through the Local Option Tax revenue the Town receives. The Town will also take out a short-term Tax Anticipatory Note that will be paid off within fifteen years and will be paid for by using a portion of future Local Option Tax revenue.
How much is the proposed new Town Hall going to cost?
The proposed Town Hall project comes with a $4.5 million price tag. Around $2 million will be afforded through existing funds, which come from revenue from impact fees and local option tax revenue, the voter-approved sales tax currently pulling in around $850,000 every year.
The remaining $2.5 million will be funded through a 15-year loan paid for using about 25% of future revenue from the local options tax, which have remained steady in the past year despite the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession.
Why are we building a proposed new Town Hall in the Bay?
The Town of St. Albans Selectboard has been considering options for a new Town Hall for several years. In March of 2019, they asked the voters of St. Albans Town if they’d like for the Town Hall to remain in the Bay area of the Town. The voters responded overwhelmingly, 1,553 to 421, to keep the Town Hall in this part of the Town.
Where is the proposed new Town Hall going to be located?
The proposed new Town Hall is going to be located at 576 Georgia Shore Rd. The lot of land is currently vacant and is separated by Warf Street from the former Department of Public Works Garage. The voters of St. Albans Town gave the Selectboard the authority to purchase said land in the 2020 General Election with an affirmative vote of 1977 to 1414.
When will the proposed new Town Hall open?
With voters’ support, the proposed new Town Hall could be open as early as next Town Meeting Day.
What will become of the current Town Hall?
While there are currently no plans on the part of St. Albans Town for the hall’s future use should voters approve building another town hall this March, the Selectboard plans to look for and work with a public or private developer looking to restore the historic town hall for other uses.
The St. Albans Town Hall has served as the town’s seat of government since the late 1800s and once doubled as a local schoolhouse. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.