Oct. 11 will be here in no time and no one knows that better than the members of the Boulder Junction Building Committee.
The nine-member committee, formed in January by the town board, has been meeting since February to formalize plans for a new community center.
That center, a 14,000 square-foot proposed facility, would also house the town office, public library, police office, meeting rooms and kitchen at a cost not to exceed $2.3 million.
The proposed structure would replace the existing facility originally built in the 1950s with an addition constructed in 1990.
If the new building is ultimately approved, construction would start in spring 2013.
When completed, the community center, which would stay in use for the duration of the new building’s construction, would be razed.
The committee had decided that holding a building referendum vote would be too costly. So a meeting of the town’s electors Thursday, Oct. 11, was chosen as the way to go.
That meeting of the electors, with no chance for absentee ballots to be used, is going to be the committee’s only shot at getting this particular proposal approved.
The problem with that, according to committee member and Boulder Junction town board member Dennis Reuss, is many of those who have indicated their approval for the project may not be around Oct. 11 to vote for it, having left for their winter homes.
That concern was brought up a few times Wednesday at the latest meeting of the building committee.
“I’ve heard a lot of good, positive things about this project from people,” Reuss said, noting that some of those people are seasonal residents of Boulder Junction.
“We want to get them before they leave,” he said.
“Building Our Future Together” is the theme of this effort to get the new community center in Boulder Junction built and the focus of Wednesday’s building committee meeting was how to communicate to town voters about the project’s particular information.
Committee member Greg Vangrinsven, in charge of the project’s communications team, said committee members have gone to various meetings in the Boulder Junction area the past few weeks to present information.
“We spoke from the fact sheet at those meetings,” he said.
Vangrinsven and other committee members at Wednesday’s meeting indicated there had been positive feedback from those meetings and other information gathered as well.
From that information, the committee has developed a list of frequently asked questions about the project.
Answers to those questions from the public, as well as basic informational talking points about the project, will be formulated into more formal presentations prior to the Oct. 11 vote.
Scope of project
Committee secretary Cherie Sanderson said this is a scaled down project from what had been considered and turned down in 2009. The feeling then, she said, wasn’t that people didn’t want a new building.
“They just wanted something smaller and less expensive,” she said.
Now that the final architectural plans for the building, small versions of which were on display at Wednesday’s committee meeting, are complete, the next phase of the committee’s “getting the word out” campaign will begin in earnest.
Sanderson said an advisory vote held in the town last year regarding the project gave voters four choices.
The choice that voters in that advisory vote went with was a new building.
“What we’re emphasizing now is that we’re coming back with something else that fits the criteria of being smaller, less expensive and something that can be used by everyone,” Sanderson said.
Other items discussed at Wednesday’s meeting included making sure there is information available to Boulder Junction voters regarding what the cost would be to them as a taxpayer.
“People have said, ‘I’d like to see this thing go through but I would also like to know what it’s going to cost me,’ which is a good, legitimate question,” Reuss said.
Making sure they concentrate their efforts on Boulder Junction voters, specifically those who will attend the Oct. 11 meeting to vote, was a recurring theme at Wednesday’s meeting.
Town clerk Lois Smith was at the meeting and was asked how many registered voters there are in Boulder Junction.
“Boulder Junction has 834 registered voters,” she said.
A mailing campaign and a calling campaign for the project were discussed.
Also discussed during the meeting was how much information to place on displays.
Vangrinsven, who retired last year from John Deere after 40 years with most of that in management with the company, told committee members the communications team will continue to work on how to display the information, which will include much larger renditions of the architectural drawings on poster board.
“What I need from the committee is feedback on what to put out there,” he said. “Once we put it out there, everyone needs to be on the same page.”
“From my experience in industry,” Vangrinsven said, “people retain information in pieces of three and five.”
Two public information meetings on the project are scheduled prior to the Oct. 11 vote.
Those dates are Sept. 27, 7 p.m., and Oct. 4, 2:30 p.m.
Brian Jopek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.