Avon recommendation on Hahnewald barn: Move it to former Town Hall site
AVON — Deemed the highest and best use of the Hahnewald barn, a big recommendation has been made to the Avon town council for consideration at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Five of the six Avon planning commission members agreed on Tuesday night that a plan to move the barn to the former town hall site has been the best option presented in how to save the more than 100-year-old structure from a June demolition.
It was noted by those commissioners, repeatedly, that their charge was to identify the best plan, not to consider cost in their evaluation.
The cost estimate from Anderson Hallas Architects, who presented the plans, would be between $6.2 million and $6.7 million, not including the demolition of town hall, which is estimated to cost approximately $600,000. A first step in the plan would occur in the coming months, where the barn would be moved to a town-owned parking lot and stored while town hall is being demolished.
That move needs to occur by June 1 per the water district, which needs to begin renovation on the nearby water treatment facility during the summer of 2019. Costs on the first move would start at an estimated $390,000 and could go up depending on how long the barn stays there.
Tract G wins out
Commissioners all agreed the barn should be moved off the sanitation district’s property and saved. While most said its final resting place should be the former town hall site, a plan known as Scheme B, commissioner Alex Dammeyer said he didn’t agree with moving it intact to the nearby parking lot first.
“Take the wood, store it, and then reassemble it with new structural walls,” Dammeyer said. “I think that the reconstruction method would be a little safer, and you could not be as rushed to get all these things in place.”
Commissioner Jared Barnes said he would rather see the barn moved to the site currently occupied by a nearby storage facility owned by the town of Avon. That plan, known as Scheme D, is estimated to cost between $900,000 and $960,000.
Barnes said he felt the barn is too large for the former town hall location.
“Scheme B leaves very little space for additional uses, or other, supplemental buildings that could help make this space highly functional,” he said.
Barnes also pointed out that of all the plans which the commission was asked to choose from involved moving the barn to areas near the Nottingham Park area of town known as Tract G.
“Most of the options we saw presented to this board were Tract G, Tract G, and Tract G and Tract G,” he said.
Liz Hallas from Anderson Hallas Architects said moving it further than Tract G wasn’t feasible.
“We really do have limitations with the size of this barn in terms of trying to get around some of the roundabouts and some of the overpasses,” she said.
Commissioners Marty Golembiewski, William Glaner, Steven Nusbaum and Lindsay Hardy all agreed that moving the barn intact to the former town hall site was the best option.
“It’s something that will be on postcards,” Glaner said.
“I feel for the town council, who is going to have to make a difficult decision here,” Barnes said.
The town council will examine the barn question at its Jan. 22 meeting, taking into consideration the planning commission’s thoughts.
Also on Jan. 22, the council is expected to address the question of whether or not the barn issue should be put to Avon voters in the coming weeks. The initial $390,000 could serve as a down payment of sorts toward a larger bonding effort which would require voter approval under the “Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” so some have expressed a desire to have the initial spend voted on, as well, so the town isn’t in a situation where the initial spend has been made but the larger bonding effort isn’t supported by voters, leaving the barn in limbo.
The decision to seek a special election would need to be made at the council’s Jan. 22 meeting to have the special election occur in time for the June 1 deadline.
The final number — the $6.2 million to $6.7 million figure, which would require the town to borrow money — could be reduced through grants and private donations, many have pointed out.
“There’s a lot of money out there for that kind of stuff but it takes some effort and probably a professional grant seeker,” Kathy Heicher, president of the Eagle County Historical Society, told the commission on Tuesday.
Hallas said it’s probably too late to seek any grants for the barn’s initial move.
“The ship has sailed for a June 1 deadline,” she said.
At the council’s Jan. 8 meeting, Avon resident Adrienne Perer asked why more effort hadn’t been made to seek funding in years past. Council member Tamra Nottingham Underwood has noted that she has been working to save the barn for years.
“The Historical Preservation (Committee) has had three years to get some private funding, yet where is it?” Perer asked.
Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes said the town hasn’t hired a grant seeker.
“We have looked into how to fundraise large sums of money, and this unto itself is a project that no one on our historic preservation board has the skill set to do,” Hymes said. “One of the things we have talked about is whether or not we need to hire someone who has the expertise to go out and fundraise for a project like this, and I think that that might be something that our council might want to think about as we move forward.”
Council member Chico Thuon asked how a new short film about the barn was paid for, and Hymes said it was through the El Pomar Foundation.
“That might be someone to contact,” Thuon said.
Those units are all deed-restricted, meaning that only people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week can live there. That keeps the apartments out of the short-term rental pool and available to local residents.