Steamboat Springs The Orton Family Foundation, destined to call the new Centennial Hall home after donating about $500,000 to the building, has decided to maintain its base of operations off-site.
City Council voted Tuesday night to amend the original agreement between the city and the foundation that would have allowed the foundation to have office space in Centennial Hall.
The foundation will send two employees to the new building in order to manage software created by the foundation that will aid city staff in making the planning process more accessible to the community. That software, which re-created the landscape of the West End Village project at recent Plan-
mission and City Council meetings, allows developers and city staff to create 3-D models of certain build-
The decision to keep the Orton Foundation offices out of the building, said City Manager Paul Hughes, was a joint decision, arrived at after discussions between the city and members of the philanthropic organization.
"The original agreement was made over a year ago at a time when we weren't sure what the ideal role of the Orton Family Foundation vis-a-vis Centennial Hall," Hughes said.
The Orton Foundation agreed that keeping offices in Centennial Hall might not be the best use of the space. The foundation currently leases office space at Colorado Mountain College.
"We realized that the office space was really secondary to the goals
of Centennial Hall and that what was really important was what we could contribute in terms of building the community information system," said Towny Anderson, the Rocky Mountain Region program director for the foundation.
The community information system will allow city and county employees to bring building projects to life under the tutelage of the two Orton Foundation employees. Anderson called the office space issue a "secondary need" that was not essential for the foundation to achieve its goals.
Anderson also said that with a private entity inhabiting a public space, the city and the foundation had discussed the possible perception of a conflict of interest.
Lyman Orton, the chairman of the board of trustees of the Orton Foundation, explained the foundation's goal for the community in a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Centennial Hall Friday. Orton said his vision for the foundation is one of empowering rural communities to define their own futures.
"We can use Centennial Hall as the core of how we define our community," he said.
The city will place the Intergovernmental Services Department in the space vacated by the Orton Foundation, which was meant to inhabit the attic above the old power plant. Four staff members, including Historical Preservation Specialist Laureen Schaffer, will have offices in the newly renovated power plant building.
Intergovernmental Services Director Linda Kakela said the move will be a much-needed one, citing the department's lack of breathing room in the current city hall building.
"We're shoehorned in here," she said. "When funding sources come to meet with us, they are appalled at the size of the space. This move will afford us a great opportunity to have better interaction with the public."