In Avon, voters will get their say on the Hahnewald Barn
Council passes a motion Tuesday night to send a survey to Avon voters
AVON — While the town may have missed the deadline for an official special election on the fate of the Hahnewald Barn, it’s not too late to mimic one.
The council passed a motion Tuesday night to send a survey to Avon voters asking how to proceed with the Hahnewald Barn, a 110-year-old structure which must be moved off the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s property by June 1.
While that deadline means it’s no longer possible to have an official special election on the matter, the town can still survey voters and treat the survey the same way it would an official election.
“We can certainly ask the printing company to print out mail ballots in the same official way as an official special election, with the signatures on the outside and the secrecy sleeve, and you could mimic that exactly like it was a special election,” town attorney Eric Heil told the council. “And we can have access to all the signatures and the town clerk can review signatures on returned envelopes.”
The seven-member council was mostly agreeable to the suggestion. The motion to have a survey vote go out to voters — complete with a secrecy sleeve signature line, with the intent to get the results back by March 27 — was passed 6-1, with council member Tamra Underwood voting against the motion.
Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes also gave direction to town staff to get “representatives from both sides of barn issue” to help draft a question that is agreeable to everybody.
Heil advised that the town circulate a draft among council members and Avon residents who have input on the survey question, with hopes something can be finalized by Tuesday, March 5, in order to have the survey properly circulated and received back by March 27.
Those who have input on the language are encouraged to email the town, Hymes said.
A suggested survey question was presented during the meeting, asking if the town should proceed with the first phase of the barn project — relocation, new foundation, and replacement of the existing roof — for an estimated cost of $1 million. Several people objected to the wording of that question.
The most recent estimations prepared by Anderson Hallas Architects said Phase 1 would also include the demolition of the former town hall, where the new foundation would be constructed, which would add another $600,000 to the cost. Additional phases would be necessary later to meet the full plan for the barn and would add another $4 million or so to the project, the architects concluded.
Anderson Hallas was hired by the town of Avon in 2018 for about $120,000; among the firm’s duties in being hired was to provide estimates on the cost of the barn restoration project.
On Feb. 12, Heil pointed out that Anderson Hallas’ figures were “the best professional estimate of cost at this time,” and that until contracts are finalized, the council won’t know the true cost of the barn move.
However, on Tuesday, it was revealed that the $390,000 figure Anderson Hallas obtained from Mammoth Movers for the relocation of the barn to the former town hall parking lot was an actual bid.
“That’s their bid,” Heil said. “And they feel that they’re already at a disadvantage because that’s been publicized. That number wasn’t an estimate from Anderson Hallas, that was the number that Mammoth Movers gave to Anderson Hallas. And that’s added complication to this because they have expressed they don’t feel it’s fair to go out to bid because everyone knows what their bid number is.”
Some work continues
For the moment, the time-sensitive work to move the barn will continue.
A motion to halt all expenditures — save the survey — did not pass.
Heil said the time-sensitive work involves burying power lines and obtaining a permit to use Union Pacific’s railroad tracks during the move.
If and when the town is ready to seek moving services for the barn, it was decided Tuesday by the council that the job will go out for bid per the usual RFP standards. That motion was made separately from the larger barn question and was also approved 6-1 with Underwood not in favor.