Chapel Hill weighs Town Hall renovations

tgrubb@newsobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

— Damage from a summer flood presents an opportunity to renovate and improve how people use town hall, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said Wednesday.

The other option is to rebuild it as it was, he said. That could cost roughly $929,000, with the town’s insurance payment for damages from a June 30 flood paying $679,576. The town would pay roughly $249,000.

A redesign and renovation, on the other hand, could cost the town about $680,000, on top of the insurance payment. The town already has $4.2 million budgeted in its long-range plan for town hall renovations.

The final cost won’t be known until plans for the building and its flooding problem are complete, Town Manager Roger Stancil said.

The town could pay its share with savings or through a two-thirds bond, said Ken Pennoyer, the town’s business management director. The bond could be used when the new fiscal year starts in July, he said.

A renovation could create a one-stop permit center on the first floor that simplifies how homeowners and developers get answers, project applications and permits, Kleinschmidt said.

“We have an opportunity to be responsive to that segment of our community that has to engage with those departments on a regular basis,” he said.

The council chamber is currently being used for storage until the building is repaired. The council is meeting now at the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road and at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The business management offices, which were damaged in the flood, could move to the second floor, leaving third-floor space for the town manager and council offices.

The cost to the town is a concern, council members Gene Pease and Matt Czajkowski said.

Council member Jim Ward said the redesign and renovation seems like a smart idea, so long as the work includes greater staff efficiency and stormwater upgrades.

“I don’t want to spend this kind of money if we still aren’t holistically addressing the problem,” he said.

The town’s Public Works staff will report back soon about the necessary stormwater repairs, said the department’s director, Lance Norris.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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