Registered voters in Boulder Junction will be asked tonight to vote on whether or not $2.3 million should be spent for a new community center.
The proposed building would replace the existing structure, which was built in the 1950s and added to in 1990.
Voters in Boulder Junction turned down a larger, more expensive building in 2009.
In 2011, an advisory vote of town residents authorized the board to explore the possibility of building a new facility.
The town board had appointed a building committee in January of this year, charged with putting together a building plan with a cost not to exceed $2.3 million that could be presented to the voters of Boulder Junction in the fall.
Over the course of the last several months, the committee met to do just that, coming up with a building plan that features more square footage overall, with more space for the town library, larger town office, larger police office, a larger meeting room and a smaller meeting room for much smaller gatherings.
In the last several weeks, committee members met with local community groups, including the Lions Club.
The committee then put together mailers that included architect’s drawings for the building, a fact sheet and a list of frequently asked questions with answers to those questions.
Cost to the taxpayer on a 20-year state trust fund note would be $30 per $100,000 of assessed value. The committee used an interest rate 3.75 percent, depending on market conditions.
Two public information meetings were scheduled and held, providing the public the opportunity to hear formal presentations on the building proposal and allow for a question and answer session at each meeting.
The attendance at the two meetings was around 120.
With all that now complete, the next step is the vote itself. The vote of the town’s electors will be held tonight.
The building committee met briefly following the second public information meeting last week, the intent being to discuss their impressions of the issue.
Committee member Greg Vangrinsven, who was in charge of the communications piece of the committee’s efforts to get as much information to the public as possible, said he was cautiously optimistic.
“I think we have a great project, I think we have a great committee, we presented a great product,” he said. “I don’t know what else we can do.”
Committee member John Iltis said he has told people it was his job, as a member of the committee, to present the product to the people and not sell it to them.
“I mean, I could theoretically be on this committee and not be in favor of the choice the community made of building all new,” he said. “But, my job as a committee member is to produce the best product we can for what they’ve asked us to do, the $2.3 million.”
“I think it was presented neutrally, for the most part, to the people, and I think they appreciated that. I think there are some for and some against and it’ll be interesting on [Oct. 11].”
Town clerk Lois Smith said she had heard some negative comments, some from a resident who told her because of advances in technology, there won’t be a need for a library.
“She said, ‘I will never vote for a new library,’” Smith said.
“You know, I hear that a lot, and I’ve been in different communities,” town board member Dennis Reuss, who is a non-voting member of the committee, said. “Some of them are a lot larger and more extravagant than what we’re proposing.”
Smith said there are rumors going around about the interest rate not being at a fixed rate.
At the first public information meeting, that was a question asked of the committee.
The answer given was whether the interest rate on the note is at 3.75 percent or lower or higher, it will be a fixed rate for the life of the payments.
Library director Cherie Sanderson said no matter how it was worded in the literature it won’t be fully understood.
“It’s a complicated thing,” she said.
One thing committee members have said at different times during the meetings leading up to the public information meetings and then during those meetings was that they would do what they could to keep the project below the $2.3 million.
Reuss said it was time to show people this could be done for less.
“That’s got to be our goal, that’s something we’re going to have to shoot for, let’s show people we can bring this in for less,” he said. “It’s not only going to make it easier for this project if it goes ahead, but projects down the line this town’s going to need.
“If we can show them we did due diligence and did something right, and were sincere about it, it’s going to be a lot easier for a lot of people.”
Smith said one other comment she’s heard was from a person who said they wouldn’t vote for the project because of the tough economic times in the country.
Reuss, himself a building contractor, agreed it is a tough time.
“I tell you if you’re going to do something, from a cost standpoint, now’s the time to do it,” he said.
Brian Jopek may be reached at email@example.com.