Finding room to stretch out

City Hall becomes a little less cramped

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— When the city planning department moved into its new digs at Centennial Hall last winter, it left behind several other departments who now have hopes of spreading out cramped office cubicles, and maybe even getting a dry roof over their heads.

Steamboat Springs City Council has given City Manager Paul Hughes the go-ahead to research funding options for a remodel of the existing city hall. Space was opened up in the cramped building when the planning staff moved out in late winter. Hughes told City Council the remodel will cost more than initially anticipated because of the need to replace the building's roof as well as its heating, air-conditioning and ventilation system.

"The city hall building has many maintenance and repair issues that have been delayed for the past several years because we wanted to move as many people out as possible prior to a major remodel. We budgeted $188,000 in this year's budget and we thought that would do it," Hughes said. "We're going to do what we can this year," but the entire project is likely to be spread out over two budget cycles.

City hall was built in 1963 with the U.S. Forest Service in mind as a tenant. The Routt National Forest was headquartered there for about 15 years. Over the past 17 years, the building has undergone one major addition and many minor remodels. The building's heating and air-conditioning system, installed in 1985, has not been upgraded to handle those changes, and now it's at the end of its life, Hughes said.

The city manager added that the city has hired three different roofing contractors to complete repairs and minor modifications without success.

Now, the project is expected to cost at least $570,000.

"We envisioned a budget of about $200,000 (two years ago). That was then," Hughes said. "Now (because the problems with the roof and mechanical systems are fully understood), we're looking at a project that would be very much more expensive."

Hughes presented City Council with four options for the remodel including a couple of more expensive plans that include adding a second floor to the building. They range in price from $569,000 to $1.6 million. But Hughes said he sees no need to undertake the most expensive options at this time.

"We're not suggesting you build the second floor now," Hughes said. "We don't need it now, and we wouldn't know what to do with it."

However, the city manager said he wanted to make sure that before a new roof is placed on the existing first floor, City Council has a chance to consider the cost of pulling that new roof off again should the city grow to need the second floor within five or 10 years.

City Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner pointed out that the potential for a second-floor addition to city hall was taken into account in a space/needs assessment completed by the city prior to the construction of Centennial Hall.

Councilman Jim Engelken said he became convinced of the need to replace the roof on city hall when he visited one rainy day and employees were distributing waste baskets around the building to catch the leaks.

"I think we're overdue on this," Engelken said. "I'd like to see it fixed as soon as possible."

Councilmen Bud Romberg and Ken Brenner asked Hughes for a more detailed analysis of the costs of adding the shell of a second floor to the building. They wanted to carefully consider the cost of replacing the roof twice, and the future cost of construction due to inflation, should the city need to add a second floor in the future.

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