Town of Hayward eyes Nov. 5 referendum

Town of Hayward Roads Supervisor Don Hamblin (left) talks to town residents Monday about the deficiencies of the current highway shop and fire department facilities.

The Town of Hayward Board of Supervisors held their second public hearing Monday, Aug. 12, to solicit input from town residents regarding the board's proposal to replace the current 50-yearold town hall, fire station, highway shop and garage and salt storage shed with new facilities on the town property. The cost is projected at approximately $4.6 million, if built in 2020.

Town Chairman Jeff Homuth said the board plans to hold an advisory referendum on the proposals, most likely on Nov. 5. He said the referendum wording is being prepared by an attorney.

About 20 people attended Monday's hearing and took part in a guided tour of the buildings, narrated by Homuth and Town Roads Supervisor and Fire Chief Don Hamblin.

According to a brochure, as the town's population has grown to the current 3,660 residents, all of the municipal departments have expanded in equipment and resources and have exceeded the current structures' available space. Monday's tour highlighted numerous space, structural and safety issues, such as cracks in the walls, spalling, settling of the building foundations, and lack of ventilation in the highway shop.

There also is a lack of storage space for records and space for holding elections, and the town hall's meeting room can seat only 20 persons, the board said.

Homuth said the town's fire department serves not only the Town of Hayward, but also the Town of Lenroot, and Towns of Bass Lake and Stinnett in Washburn County. The firefighters also respond in mutual aid to fire calls in the City of Hayward.

The town has three full-time highway workers, a police chief and two part-time officers, and operates a waste transfer, compost site and recycling station.

Hamblin said fire trucks "have gotten bigger, with more technology, over the years," making it harder to get the trucks in and out of the garage. A few years ago, the town did soil borings of the fire garage floor and found there is a 1.5-foot air gap between the concrete and concrete. The town dug out the floor, excavated beneath and filled the space with sand, and added floor drains.

The heated highway garage contains two trucks, a grader, wheel loader and police squad car. All other equipment is kept in a cold storage pole shed and is plugged in, Hamblin said. There is no air filtration system. The employees do some vehicle maintenance, and farm out bigger jobs to a local truck repair shop.

"The estimates we've gotten to fix this building (town hall, fire department, highway shop) and bring the electrical up to code would be almost $1 million," Homuth said.

The 8,603-squarefoot salt storage shed would be replaced with a 5,000-square-foot shed at a projected cost of $460,000.

"This (town hall, fire department, highway shop) is a pretty solid building. I would hate to see it demolished," said town resident Tim Zeigle. "I think it could be used."

"Metal buildings are the least expensive to build, but the life expectancy is not nearly as long as a masonry building," said Derrick Capra of Legend Architecture, who prepared a feasibility study of facilities for the town. "The fire and highway departments are engineered buildings. You're probably looking at 50 years (life expectancy)."

At a previous town meeting, Capra said that any addition/renovations to the existing building would have to be sprinklered, and meet electrical, plumbing and heating codes. "It would be pretty much a gut from inside out. It would far exceed $1 million."

To try to renovate the existing facilities as opposed to building new ones would be "opening up a can of worms," Capra added.

Richard Dewhurst said if the town attempted to rip apart and remodel the highway shop for an estimated $900,000, "You have no idea of what you would run into. The overrun could be a halfmillion dollars. It's not a sound investment. You might as well build a new building."

An audience member questioned whether the town could get some funding other than property taxes to help pay for the proposed projects. He also asked if a private party could build new structures and lease them to the town.

Town board member Dan Cousins said, "I'm not going to sugar-dip a turd (existing buildings). It's still a piece of crap. I'm a taxpayer, too, and want to be a good steward. When you have a building that's falling into the ground, I'm not going to sugar-dip it."

Cousins said there are outside funding possibilities such as endowments or grants, "but nothing is guaranteed. So we're going with the worst-case scenario first" with the pending referendum.

Town resident Mike Sawyer asked if the board has considered jointly building a fire department facility with the City of Hayward. Homuth said that idea has been talked about for 40 years, but "It never gets anywhere."

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