I think Mayor Sulka is correct in recently stating “we need to think outside the box” about the renovations of Bluffton Town Hall.
Bluffton Town Manager Marc Orlando stated that estimates for the cost of construction renovations are approximately $3.5 million. Since that article was written, many people have asked me why not build a new building for that much money, possibly on Hwy. 46 near the Post Office or another location?
The Town has already spent over $750,000 on a building the school district owns and the Town leases for $1 a year. Now Town Council is considering spending $3.5 million on a building that belongs to the school district. Why?
It’s certainly not a great geographic location for the Town Hall. Maybe an investor would create a cultural arts center-museum there.
Or, since the school district said there is a need to provide workforce housing, why don’t they renovate their building into beautiful cluster townhomes that would be compatible with the residential area and increase property values?
The cost of renovations when there is extensive tear out, such as this building will require, could easily be 25 percent of the cost of construction, approximately $875,000. That could go towards a land purchase.
People are telling me they do not think this is smart planning or a good investment of taxpayer money.
Since all of the Town’s agencies are not able to locate in the current building, smart planning could incorporate a design to include them and eliminate any additional leases the Town may have.
Re-locating employees and equipment during construction will be another cost factor, not to mention the stressful problems the employees will face in trying to do their jobs while maneuvering in temporary quarters.
It’s very important that people care about our governmental decisions and that officials are prudent in listening to ideas “outside the box” that make good economic sense.
Bluffton is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the state, and that’s why Town Council needs to envision ownership of its town hall in a location that provides for the needs of new growth for all the citizens of Bluffton.
I hope Town Council will “think outside the box” and reconsider the importance of the financial asset benefits of owning Bluffton’s Town Hall building and the convenience of a new location for the citizens and the Town of Bluffton.
Cynthia Bensch represents District 7 on Beaufort County Council.