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Hotchkiss seeks voter approval for sale of shop

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Photo by Pat Sunderland The master plan for the Town of Hotchkiss has long envisioned replacing the public works building at 222 W. Bridge Street with a larger, more energy efficient structure located away from the busy downtown area.

Registered electors in the Town of Hotchkiss are looking at a couple of ballot questions that could impact their property taxes and a third that won't hit them in the pocketbook -- at least initially.

The Town of Hotchkiss is seeking voter approval to sell the public works building at 222 W. Bridge Street for an amount not less than $168,500.

"As a statutory town, we can not sell town property without voter approval," said Mayor Larry Wilkening.

He explains the minimum sales amount of $168,500 was determined by an appraisal of the building conducted in 2014. At that time, the town wanted to move the public works building out of the middle of town, but couldn't make the numbers work.

The goal remains the same -- to move public works to a larger, more efficient building to be erected at the old sewer lagoon area close to town. The town owns the property and utilities are already in place.

A planning grant has been obtained from DOLA/Region 10, and if voters approve the sale of the building, the town would apply for a grant for construction of a steel building similar to one erected recently in Olathe, which town staff has toured.

Wilkening says the building at 222 W. Bridge Street was initially built as a county shop around 1950. In 1985, the county traded the shop for town property on Hotchkiss Avenue, where the Delta County Annex was built.

"The public works building has now outgrown its usefulness," said Wilkening. It's so small, some equipment is stored in a lean-to behind the main building, leaving supplies and equipment exposed to the weather. Workers lose productivity shuffling vehicles around to get to the piece of equipment they need. The garage doors are not wide enough for the town's snowplow, so it has to be jockeyed in and out.

But above all, backing equipment out onto Bridge Street -- which sees 8,500 vehicles a day -- is downright unsafe.

Wilkening says the new building will go up pretty quickly, and will be much more energy efficient than the current shop. There will be some cost to the taxpayers, in the form of matching funds for the construction grant.

"But if we don't sell the building, we're going to have to spend some money anyway, to add insulation and extend the life of the shop," Wilkening said.

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