Community hall replacement eyed

Community hall replacement eyed

Current facility approaching end of useful life

Houston council is considering allocating $40,000 to prepare a concept plan and cost estimate to replace the aging community hall.

Built at some point in the 1950s and although renovated over the years, the structure is approaching the end of its useful life.

More work is now needed — including replacing the roof within the next five years at an estimated $250,000 cost.

But the challenge, indicated District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck, is the cost compared to the return on investment.

“The Lifecycle plan recommended the replacement facility, as the return on investment period for required capital works is extremely limited,” Pinchbeck noted of a study prepared for the District in 2017.

The study indicated at best, the hall has a maximum 15 years left under the best circumstances.

Renovations over the years include an accessibility ramp, mechanical equipment, a commercial kitchen and aesthetic improvements.

The hall’s lower level and associated rooms are also not available for rent since they lack access for people with mobility challenges.

And further repairs amounting to $1.05 million will also be needed over the 15-year lifespan time frame.

Those repairs, plus the roof replacement, further make any return on investment doubtful.

The 2017 study, in broad estimates taking into account engineering and contingency costs, projected at the high end a $3.25 million price tag for a new facility.

District staffers, however, are pointing to a federal and provincial program which could provide up to 73.33 per cent of the cost for a new hall.

That would mean finding $866,755 from other sources and staffers tagged the another senior government program and the local Dungate Community Forest as potential contributors.

“Other factors such as demolition costs, site location, and other factors are yet to be determined,” staffers indicated in a report to council.

The $40,000 projected cost of the concept study would place the District in a good position to make a formal funding application next year and “allow District staff to identify alternate funding sources to reduce the overall liability to the District,” the report continued.

“A conceptual plan is the best option for preparing for the replacement of this asset.”

Council’s finance committee will consider its options on Feb. 16.

A plan to move forward would have the project be included in the District’s five-year financial plan for the fiscal years of 2019-2021.