By NATALIE MILLER
Ashland Town Council voted to move forward with a design process for a new Town Hall building at their June 6 meeting. After considering results from a year-long study of the building, the Council decided in a 4-1 vote to continue the beginning stages in the process of constructing a new Town Hall.
Structural engineers from Speight, Marshall & Francis, P.C. evaluated the roughly 62-year-old Town Hall building and compiled their findings for the Council. A public input meeting was held last December to gauge what citizens were interested in seeing in a potentially new or renovated Town Hall.
Jeff Stodghill of PMA Architecture presented the findings from the study, which illustrated a need to either renovate or reconstruct the current Town Hall building. According to the nearly year-long study, the building’s original roof coverage seems to still be in place, with possible repairs made over the years with the same materials.
Older construction designs have led to leaking in some parts of the roof as the building gets older, and the study revealed that much of the Town Hall’s roof needs replacing. Electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems also need replacing, and the out-of-date building design lacks insulation and moisture barriers.
Public areas in the Town Hall do not all meet requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or International Building Code accessibility requirements, the studies found.
“There is so much overwhelming data, that says I think we’re at a point where the path is clear,” Town Manager Josh Farrar said during the discussion.
Stodghill presented Town Council with three possible construction configurations, as well as a possible expansion to the current Town Hall. The drawings include the general shape and square footage of potential designs, which varied from one-story to two. The configurations placed the potential new Town Hall at different points on the current property, and included possible parking lot adjustments.
Estimated prices for each general configuration were included in the presentation, and ranged from $5-6 million, including construction and relocating staff for the duration of the project.
“Where we are going from here is hearing from the public,” council member Steve Trivett said before the vote.
The vote was not in favor of a particular design, but to allow PMA Architecture to continue designing possible new Town Hall buildings, rather than creating new expansion designs.
Mayor James Foley voted against continuing design plans for a new Town Hall, stating that he was not comfortable doing so without more public input.
The next steps in the process will include public input and meetings in the coming months with a design chosen possibly by spring of 2018. Late this year or early next year, concept designs and summaries could be presented to Town Council before the budget process.
In other news, Officer Sam Hollins was recognized for his 20 years of volunteer service with the Ashland Police Department (APD) at the meeting in honor of his retirement. Hollins served the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office for five years before volunteering with APD.
“Sam would always come out whenever we needed him,” APD Chief Doug Goodman said when presenting Hollins with a shadowbox of his badges. “It didn’t matter if it was 7 o’clock on a Friday, or 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon or 2:30 on a Monday morning—Sam was there.”
Hollins’ family and members of APD attended the meeting to honor his years of service to Ashland.