Only one day after approving the purchase of a new Star Valley town hall, staff began painting, redecorating and playfully arguing over who got which office at the new space Thursday.
On Friday, Town Manager Tim Grier, Mayor Bill Rappaport and Councilor Vern Leis happily showed the Roundup around the new digs, pointing out what walls they hoped to knock down for increased space, where they would put the copy machine, their desks and how they would turn the once bland office space into a permanent town hall.
With three bathrooms, Grier said jokingly that he is most excited that he no longer has to share a bathroom with the mostly female office staff.
“The only reason we were looking at this space was because of the bathrooms,” Leis added sarcastically.
In the former town hall space, located directly north of the new property and adjacent to Star Vale Mobile Home Park, one bathroom serviced staff and the public during council meetings. The space had an open floor plan, so conversations easily flowed throughout.
The new space is constructed more like a home. A wide porch sweeps around half of the building. Through the front doors, a kitchen takes up half of a great room with a fireplace taking up another corner. The town plans to place a desk in the remaining space for reception and possibly close off the kitchen.
The council gave Grier $40,000 to play with to make any repairs and improvements. Grier said staff is still discussing what changes need to be made, however; most importantly, they are concerned with moving everything over from the old space so town services are not interrupted.
On March 26, the town council held an emergency meeting fearing they would be evicted from the owners of town hall. In a 4-1 vote, the council opted to purchase the two-story office space formerly occupied by the administrative offices of the Hellsgate Fire Department for $235,000 instead of negotiating a new lease agreement with Kyle and Lanette Parker. The Parkers offered the town a month-to-month, one-year and five-year lease agreements; all including a 10 percent rate increase.
Determined to offer Star Valley residents a stable place to call home, the council went with property at 3655 E. Highway 260, even though it is not large enough to hold town meetings. Those will now be held at the Lamplighter meeting hall.
Despite its smaller size, Leis said the new town hall is the nicest commercial property available for purchase in town.
Past the upstairs great room, a hallway leads past a bathroom, Town Clerk Stephanie Jones’ office and Grier’s office, which has a private bath.
The bottom floor, accessible from an outside door, has four 12-foot-by-20-foot rooms. One will hold commission meetings and the others offices.
While the town does not own the building yet, the town negotiated a quick move with property owner Douglas daCosta that included a temporary lease at $500 a month. It should take about a month to complete an inspection and close, Grier said.
On Tuesday, the council will hold its first meeting in the Lamplighter RV Park recreation room, 3933 E. Highway 260. On the agenda is discussion of the fiscal budget through January by Glenn Smith and town staff and possible appointment of Paty Henderson and Bernadette Heath to the board of adjustments.