ST. ALBANS TOWN — Following a decisive vote on Town Meeting Day, officials in St. Albans Town are plotting next steps in the run up to the construction of a new town hall.
On Tuesday, voters approved moving forward with the proposed town hall by a margin of 1,251-598 — a two-to-one margin on a day when the town saw much higher than normal voter participation.
“I felt like people were ready, and they understood the need, so I’m delighted,” said Town Manager Carrie Johnson of the vote.
Article 4 asked voters whether or not to authorize the board to spend infrastructure development funds generated by the local option tax to pay for impact fees and a short-term loan to construct a new town hall to be located near 576 Georgia Shore Road.
The warrant article follows a vote in November in which residents approved $400,000 in local option tax revenue to be spent on predevelopment and land purchase expenses for the project.
Replacing St. Albans Town’s 120-year-old town hall has been a longtime goal for the town, with studies showing limited space and accessibility issues presented by their current home in St. Albans Bay.
The new hall envisioned by town officials would see a single-story, 13,000-square-foot building placed on a property near Georgia Shore Road. The total project cost is roughly $4.5 million — $2 million to be paid with cash on hand, and $2.5 million to be borrowed on a 15-year loan.
According to Johnson, the town will soon be putting out a request for proposals seeking a construction manager to oversee the bid for who will construct the building.
“We hope to break ground this summer — June, hopefully,” she said in an interview with the Messenger Thursday.
If all goes well, the town could be holding the 2022 informational hearing ahead of Town Meeting in the new building, said Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso.
“The only thing I can see holding the building up are pandemic-related material shortages,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
Deso and Johnson expressed their thanks both to voters for the approval, and town employees for working on moving the project forward and for their work on Town Meeting Day.
“I’d like to thank our town clerk and her assistant, and our election day volunteers and staff for making Town Meeting Day 2021 as safe and successful as possible,” Deso said.
Plans for St. Albans Bay
In addition to providing more space for town staff and future growth, the new town hall is part of a larger plan to revitalize the St. Albans Bay, officials say. Deso said the town is also looking to construct a sidewalk from the new town hall to the bay dock and park, and that a fundraising push is planned in the next several months to revitalize the historic stone house in the bay park, which will see its 90th anniversary in 2023.
In the meantime, Deso said the new town hall is the last major project voters will be asked to approve for the time being.
“We’re hoping it will jumpstart revitalizing the bay,” Johnson said of the new town hall.
What about the current town hall?
“We have no identified municipal need for that building,” Deso said.
Deso said the town is open to selling or leasing the property to an individual or business, as well as potentially using it as a community building. Johnson said next steps for the current town hall will be a topic of community-wide discussion down the road.
“We do believe there could be a great next chapter for this building,” she said.