Amidst fear the town is moving too quickly to spend money, the Star Valley council Tuesday night halted plans to purchase two pieces of property totaling $710,000, that would have housed town facilities.
The town needs to find a new place to house town hall as well as a police station and court, because the current location's lease expires in late 2009 and more space is needed.
Council members expressed concern about the additional money necessary to improve the proposed properties for use.
The first piece of land, 3.1 acres on Highway 260 near Valley Road, is a vacant lot costing $350,000.
Town manager Vito Tedeschi, said it would cost an additional $50,000-$100,000 to level the land to build on two acres. Once leveled, the town could build a town hall, court, police station, building department and council chambers on site. Tedeschi said that would likely not happen for 10 years.
"We might be getting ahead of ourselves," Councilmember Gary Coon said. "We may want to buy it in the future after immediate things are handled."
Coon said finding a place to accommodate the police, a court and funding a water facility is more important now.
Councilor George Binney asked Tedeschi when the town would know if the police contract had been extended with the Payson Police Department.
"The goal is to know by the end of this month, but I can't get the urgency across to the other side," Tedeschi said.
Star Valley's contract with Payson Police expires at the end of July 2009.
Some $600,000 has been budgeted for police if the contract does not go through, he said.
Binney said he did not think Tedeschi would find property so soon after the council decided to look into buying land.
"We just asked you to look into it," Coon said. "It was not an automatic move forward."
"Was it an automatic move backwards?" Tedeschi asked.
Tedeschi said if they do not buy the property now, someone else might buy it up.
The council unanimously decided not to purchase the land.
The second site, slated to be remodeled as a temporary town hall, is the 2.7-acre Morgan Inn at 62 Mars Lane at a cost of $360,000. The property would also house a senior center, soccer field and park.
Tedeschi said the building needs more than $16,000 in repairs because of termite and rot damage.
"The more I look at it, the worst feeling I get," Tedeschi said. "I don't really have a good feeling about it."
Since the building is located in a flood plain, it may sustain more damage, Coon said. The wood on the building is already rotting.
Coon said after talking to residents, he did not think it was a good idea to move the town hall into a residential area.
"It is a very poor location for a government facility, to put something like that in a residential area," said Star Valley resident Karen Benjamin.
Benjamin proposed the town lease something until a better site could be found.
Star Valley resident Ed Hart said, "I assume you need it, but people back there don't want it in a residential area."
Due to the confusion and misgivings, Mayor Chuck Heron decided to call a special meeting next Thursday night for council members to discuss future development plans.
"We were hit with two pieces tonight and we have a lot of priorities," Heron said. "It's a little too much."