The Dolores Board of Trustees approved a preliminary plan during a special meeting Monday to purchase a building and relocate Town Hall to Central Avenue.
The current Town Hall would be torn down, and the land would become part of Flanders Park.
Dolores Town Manager Ken Charles said a building audit and recent budget meeting showed the current Town Hall needed about $350,000 in repairs and upgrades, including $94,000 in short-trem repairs.
He said an opportunity arose when town officials learned a vacant, updated office building at 601 Central Ave. was on the market for $379,000. Town staff toured the site and liked the building.
“We’re at the point of having to address a lot of repairs on our town hall built in the mid-1950s. It is at the end of its useful life, and was never designed for office space,” Charles said. “Why start spending all that when this option puts us in a more modern facility well suited for current and future needs?”
The Town Hall building originally was made for the Sheriff’s Office and jail, and it housed the fire department and library.
The new building on Central Avenue was built in 1960 and extensively remodeled by Southwest Health System in 2017 for a doctor’s clinic and medical offices.
SHS abandoned the plan during a period of financial distress, and it has been mostly vacant since.
The building sold for $295,000 in 2017 and for $274,000 in 2019, according to the Montezuma County Assessor’s Office It is owned by Montezuma Realty Group LLC.
The Dolores Town Board held an executive session Aug. 22 to learn about the potential deal. A special public meeting was held Aug. 29 to hear additional details and vote on the matter.
The board unanimously approved two resolutions Monday. One authorizes the town to enter into a contract to purchase the property, and the other approves a grant application to help fund the purchase and cost to demolish the current hall.
The plan is contingent on an offer being accepted for the building and successful grant applications to fund half the costs.
According to a project budget, the total cost would be $623,514, including $379,000 for the building, $129,000 for remodeling, $75,000 for demolition of Town Hall, $35,000 for contingency on remodel and demolition and $5,000 in legal and closing costs.
Grant applications would be submitted to the Department of Local Affairs to cover $311,757 which is half the cost of the project.
City departments in the current Town Hall, including the Sheriff’s Office, would relocate to the new building, which is around the corner. Solar panels would be moved to the top of the new building.
The new location is 4,500 square feet, less than the current town hall at 5,500 square feet. But the new building’s layout, structure and updated electrical, septic, heating and cooling are seen as an advantage, said David Doudy, Dolores building inspector.
The board room would be larger in the new building with a capacity of 90 people, up from 45 in the current board room.
The current building has many problems, town officials said, and needs upgrades for energy efficiency, according to a recent audit by Iconergy.
Additions in past decades are not well designed for an office, and were poorly built. During heavy rains water flows into offices. Walls are rotted and contain black mold, Doudy said. Heating and cooling systems are outdated and inefficient. Restroom plumbing has deteriorated and requires replacement, and the space is not ADA accessible.
Costs estimates to update the current town hall include $94,000 for wall replacement and heating unit for sheriff’s office, $156,000 to replace old HVAC systems, $25,000 for updated electrical; $30,000 for bathroom upgrade; $20,000 to replace single-pane windows and add energy efficient doors; $11,000 for energy efficient LED lights; and $13,000 for painting. Other needs are roof repairs, roof insulation, and new flooring.
The project and contract purchase for the property are contingent on successful grant awards to cover half the cost, Charles said. The town’s portion would be funded out of the town budget and is available.
“The price is affordable,” Charles said.
A new building would cost an estimated $1.3 million based on the office-commercial construction estimate of $300 per square foot for 4,500-square-foot building, Doudy said.
One or more public hearings or workshops will be held to gauge public sentiment regarding the relocation project. The date is pending.
According to the resolution approving the property purchase, the Dolores Town Board of Trustees may elect to terminate the purchase contract on or before Oct. 31 if it determined there was insufficient public support for the property purchase and plan for a new town hall.
The board can also decide to terminate the contract if the grant applications to cover half the costs are not approved.
The available grants are part of the Colorado Energy Impact Assistant Fund funded by severance taxes and oil and gas revenues paid to the state.
Charles said he has prepared the grant applications, which must be submitted by Sept. 1. The award decisions will be announced in December.
Town officials said a second benefit of the project is an improved Flanders Park. After the building is torn down, the space would be made into a town plaza for community gathering and events. The move has been discussed for years.
“The footprint of the current Town Hall takes up a significant area of Flanders Park,” states the resolution. “Freeing this space . . . will give the community a prominent town square feature between Railroad and Central Avenues. Demand for the use of Flanders Park often exceeds its capacity during community events, (and) the demand for outdoor venue space has increased.”