Town Council ponders future of Town Hall

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The current Vevay Town Hall was built as a Carnegie Library and became town hall in April of 1992 when the town switched places with the Switzerland County Public Library so that the new library could be built at its current location.

Now, it may be time for another move.

The Vevay Town Council is considering consolidating its offices, and in the process would relocate town hall to the former ‘Company House’ of the U.S. Shoe Corporation building on Seminary Street. The Company House currently sits next to the town water plant, and is where the Vevay Town Council currently holds its meetings.

“When we took office, one of the things that I looked at was trying to find ways to save the town taxpayers money,” town council President Josh South said. “So the concept was, ‘Why do we have two under utilized buildings?’ Why not consolidate the buildings are reduce utility costs, insurance costs, and while at the same time, put a building back on the tax rolls, which will generate more income?”

Josh South said that one of the things considered was moving town hall to Seminary Street and selling the current building. He noted that one of the reasons that town council meetings are now held at the Seminary Street location is that the building is handicapped accessible, making it easier for all citizens to attend the meetings.

The big issue with the current town hall is accessibility, and Josh South said that at Monday night’s meeting of the town council, representatives from Indiana Landmarks reported on a feasibility study focused on what it would take to turn the current town hall into a handicapped accessible building, while at the same time utilizing the space a little bit better for the police station and the clerk’s office.

“The presentation was really, really good; and the layout was really great,” Josh South said. “The problem is, it still doesn’t address the issue that brought this whole project about, which was to consolidate the buildings that we have.”

Josh South said that the consensus of the project, to do the renovations that the feasibility study talked about, would cost in the neighborhood of $250,000 – but more likely in the area of $500,000 to bring the building to handicapped accessibility standards and provide the office space needed.

“It involved cutting into the floor, moving staircases, moving plumbing, moving electrical, putting chair lifts in – it was a big deal,” Josh South said. “It would have been a great project, but I just can’t wrap my head around that kind of price tag.”

Josh South said that his idea is to renovate the Company House on Seminary Street so that it can be a fully functioning town hall, and then sell the Ferry Street building, using the funds from that sale to pay for the renovations on Seminary Street.

And, because buildings owned by municipalities are not taxed, selling the Carnegie Library building to a private individual or group puts the value of that building back on the tax rolls, bringing more money into town coffers.

Another reason for selling the Carnegie Library is, honestly, preservation.

“Honestly, we don’t take care of town hall like it should be,” Josh South said. “That’s a Carnegie Library, and you walk into it today and there’s paint chipping and other issues. It’s not kept up to standards because we’re a government entity and we have other responsibilities. Why not get the building in the hands of an individual or a group or whatever who’s really going to take care of the building and bring it back to the glory that it was.”

Josh South says that a potential buyer for the town hall will also face those same handicapped accessibility issues that the town currently sees, and if a decision is made to offer the building for sale, those will have to be addressed in negotiations.

After the presentation, the members of the town council voted to have the Ferry Street building appraised. That will show the town council what the value of the building is, and - if the town council decides to move forward with looking for a buyer – an appraisal is the first step in that process.

It should be noted that no final decision has been offered or made by the Vevay Town Council.