Committee member: Score town hall
Shepherdstown Building Committee Co-Chairwoman Gussie Mills wants the Town Council and the public at large to “score” proposed new town hall designs against the requirements set forth in the original solicitation for designs.
Mills says the current plans, though already approved by her committee, don’t measure up.
“It went way too far off base,” Mills says of the current design. “I’m pretty discouraged.”
Despite earlier objections by Mills that changes need to be made to the design, the committee has voted to move forward, final plans already have been submitted for the public to see, and the proposed building will soon be up for consideration by the town Board of Zoning Appeals.
“The Town Council can say, ‘Committee, we don’t agree with what you’re doing, and withdraw the funds,'” Mills says.
Mills has developed an anonymous survey she hopes will determine once and for all whether people really like the Singletary’s design. (See the survey and original design requirements at www.shepherdstownchronicle.com). Mills believes many people on her own committee and the Town Council and members of the public do not like what has been presented but are afraid to object.
“They don’t want to stick their necks out,” Mills said this week during an interview with the Chronicle. “This is secret ballots, and that’s what it’s going to take.”
When the Shepherdstown Town Council first authorized the demolition of the current Town Hall at 104 N. King St., a building commission was formed, and a design competition for a new building was launched.
In January 2008, the Shepherdstown Building Commission – headed by Mills – began to invite licensed, accredited architects and designers to submit their proposals. Ultimately, it was local architect Andy Singletary, who won the opportunity to design the new town hall.
Between January 2008 and today, the commission became a committee, now headed by Mayor Jim Auxer and Mills.
But Mills says the finished drawings don’t reflect the requirements set forth in the design invitation.
“Is this what we wanted to be done?” Mills asks. “(Singletary) … went in another direction.”
Auxer said late last week that it is up to the membership of the committee to decide how to handle Mills’ concers. He was unaware of her survey as of early this week.
“If they want to reconvene to look at this, then that’s what we’ll do,” Auxer said.
Chief among Mills’ concerns:
– The “shed” on the alley side of the building hides police cars, and the uniforms and records proposed to be stored there should be stored inside the main building
– The white, block wall inside the glass entryway blocks off the Police Department, again hiding the force “in a bunker”
– Anyone waiting to speak with police must wait in an area visible from outside “for all the world to see”
– The building design forces wasteful framing (no uniform ceiling heights) making the building unnecessarily costly to build
– Design needs to be more simple, and the building more compact with a full second floor