Vail Daily column: Keep Avon moving forward
Throughout the past year, the Town Council and I have worked hard to find the right solution for Avon’s main municipal building, which is in poor shape. When the voters did not support the price and financing for the Skier Building, we hired an independent consultant to study the current building and options. The consultant found that renovating Town Hall would be more expensive than buying the Skier Building at a reduced cost and moving the Police Department into a new joint public safety facility, which will include a new fire station, on Interstate 70. The council and I agreed this program was the best solution. Our first step was to negotiate a new purchase price for the Skier Building. We were successful in purchasing the building for cash and at a price $1.7 million less than original amount.
The next important step is the council’s asking Avon’s voters to approve the financing for the police station at the new joint public safety building. The consultant’s report shows that this is an excellent solution to meet our town’s needs. The joint public safety facility on I-70 is ideal and provides functionality, emergency response and cost savings, by working together with the fire district. It is the best location as Avon builds out, providing quick access to I-70, reduced traffic congestion and a high level of safety. This is an important vote for the future of Avon’s emergency services, and I hope you will join the council and me in voting “yes.”
As a longtime council leader and local builder, I know the problem of the failing Town Hall is not going to be resolved without taking action, and I believe the longer we wait, the more expensive it will get. Town planning studies back to 2006 identified the failing condition of the current Town Hall and that operations in the building should be moved out of Harry A. Nottingham Park. The most recent study documented the Police Department’s cramped spaces, lack of space for current operations, failure to meet safety, disability and energy codes, depreciated construction materials and equipment and the other deficiencies to be expected in a 30-year-old building.
The council has taken the time to work diligently on not overbuilding in the new police station design. Council found that building a new police station of just under 11,000 square feet should meet the needs of our Police Department through full build-out of the town. To make sure we do not have unforeseen cost overruns, the town has priced the design of the building several times. The projected not to exceed cost of the new police station at $6.5 million, includes land purchase and contingency.
The Town Council has adopted a five-year capital projects plan and the new police station is a top project. Slightly more than a year ago, the town paid off capital debt, which allows us to redeploy those monies and pay for a new 20-year bond for the new police station, from existing revenues, which may include sales tax, property tax and/or real estate transfer tax collections. No new taxes or tax rate increases are needed. The Town Council believes when existing monies are available, we should prioritize expenditures and not ask our citizens for new money. With low interest rates, this is great timing for an important and affordable project. Plus, other capital projects including street improvements, Metcalf bike climbing lane, regional and trail development, park restroom improvements and other important investments are funded as well. How? We are able to make these investments and improvements through multi-year planning, project directed savings, grant awards and strong fiscal control of operational expenditures as revenues have been recovering from the recession.
I am in the final six months of my 29-year service to the town of Avon. I have never felt better about Avon’s future as a community. I hear how much you appreciate the investments in the town, throughout the past years, as Avon has been able to improve its landscaping, streets, park and lake and build the mall. We also are successful in bringing to Avon festivals and events, which are good for the community and our businesses.
The town is in excellent financial shape, with strong reserves in the bank to handle the unforeseen. It is our responsibility as stewards of public property and facilities to address the failing Town Hall and move forward to get the public safety facility approved and built.
Please vote “yes” and keep Avon moving forward. Ballots must be returned by Tuesday.
Buz Reynolds is an Avon town councilman.