Building Commission eyes Town Hall
By Samantha Zurbuch
The Shepherdstown Building Commission has begun to evaluate inititial architecht narrative plans for a new Town Hall.
On Wednesday, Feb. 18, Commission’s biweekly meeting was held at Town Hall, 104 N. King St.
Present were architect Andy Singletary, along with commission members Gussie Mills, Sandra Jenkins and Sonya Evanisko.
The commission shared conversations they have had with various townspeople about the ongoing proposed new town hall project. It was made note that a general progress/communication letter had been sent to the Planning Commission.
One major request of townspeople for the new town hall is that it would include such spaces and features as a porch, transition entry area and outdoor benches. It was discussed that such features would make the entry area more usable and friendly for everyone. While this was pointed out, it was also mentioned that the members do not necessarily mean they intend to add space to the building, due to cost restraints. Still, they feel that it is important that the structure not feel like a corporate office building, but a place designed to serve a small community.
Commission members discussed the six letters they received in response to their appeal for public input in the Chronicle. It was discussed that there were many community based needs of the approximate 1,200 residents of Shepherdstown who would use the new town hall building for their business. It was also pointed out that the location of such a building would clearly affect the attendance of residents at meetings held therein.
Evanisko expressed concern that the six response letters were a relatively small response, and that she hoped future meetings will garner a larger response. Jenkins made the point that many of the opinions came from the exact people who had previously made their opinions known. All members agreed that they look forward to an upcoming well advertised community meeting where all issues can be discussed.
Mills mentioned various research efforts that have been made by the commission in order to best advise Singletary on the architectural needs and wants of the town concerning this project. One example given by Mills was the commission’s look at a study conducted by an environmental studies class at Shepherd. The class looked into solar panel options and found they were not a sound investment as the area can’t offer the reqired unremitting sunlight.
The commission stressed the needs at the top of their list for the structural aspects of the building. These included creating a structure that would insulate itself well in winter, while cooling well in the summertime.
Singletary, of Singletary, Rueda Architects PC, presented the draft of his narrative for a new town hall that would be built onto the existing Town Hall structure. He went over a set of issues that come from adding onto the current structure. Included in his narrative is the history of voting by the council, meeting minutes, the genesis of the cost basis analysis, building codes, zoning codes, an ADA guide for small towns, and draft floor plans. Singletary pointed out that you cannot draw a test fit without drawing an initial floor plan.
The draft floor plan included an elevator that would serve the lobbies of both floors. The police operations would be on the first/entry level floor, while the town hall section would be on the second floor, comprised of a series of areas. The second floor would more notably look like an office building than the first. The first floor police area would include an winding L-shaped process space much like the layout of the current police station in town.
The plan includes an initial layout somewhat limited by the position and size of the current town hall structure. Building commission members Jenkins and Mills pointed out that it can be rather expensive to do custom addition work to structures, and sometimes less expensive when you are able to purchase and use factory ready pieces.
The committee would like to express their gratitude to those who submitted letters in response to their appeal. They would also like to encourage the public to stay tuned for more information regarding a large community meeting. The Building Commission’s next meeting is 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Town Hall.