Work of conceptual planning on a hoped-for new Forest Service headquarters building is taking place this week.
Facilities engineering staff with the GMUG Forest Supervisor's office had scheduled a session with an architectural and engineering firm to flesh out conceptual designs for a 15,000 to 21,000-square-foot building to house 88 local government workers.
But any plans, and all hopes for the new forest headquarters building next to the Delta-Montrose Technical College are only as solid as the current federal budget process.
Regardless of what happens in planning for the project, nothing will move forward in earnest until at least October. That is when GMUG officials expect to know if they have funding, and what funding they may have for the project.
Five GMUG staff officers and Forest Supervisor Scott Armentrout on Monday met with the county commissioners and others from local government with an "update" presentation on the new headquarters project.
A strong showing of local support has been a key factor in keeping the GMUG's hope for a new building at the top of the Forest Service's facility priority list so far, Armentrout said.
In addition to the county, the City of Delta and Delta County Economic Development working with some silent partners have pledged substantial support for the project.
Delta County has pledged up to $200,000, much of which could be contributed in-kind. The City of Delta is providing sewer service improvements valued at up to $250,000. DCED and its partners have pledged to purchase 10 acres next to the technical college and deed it to the federal government if the project is approved.
In addition, a new GMUG headquarters would share highway access with the technical college. That would require access improvements, including acceleration/deceleration lanes, and the college would expect to pay its share for those.
But other than the local support pledged to the project and which has been on the table for well over two years, there hasn't been substantial progress.
Armentrout is committed to the Delta area location for a new facility, as was the previous GMUG supervisor Charlie Richmond. The big question in everyone's mind is the likelihood of federal funding for the project.
Armentrout and his staff at Monday's meeting envisaged the option of a "phased project" that could see construction run into two, three, or more years.
For example, if funding is approved this October and a contractor is chosen a year from now, a building that is only partially completed in 2015 would not be occupied. Depending on how funding scenarios play out, the GMUG would not move into a new HQ until the entire structure is ready to use, perhaps only after two or more phases of construction, Armentrout explained.
At this week's meetings between GMUG staff and architects it was hoped that the work resolving some of those question marks could begin, said a GMUG staff engineer.
The GMUG's update presentation with local officials on Monday was laced with terms like "hopefully," "try," "if," "it's not impossible," and others which conveyed a general sense that even with the project moving forward, progress at this point is still a goal. It is a goal that it will take federal money to reach.
Armentrout said he sees construction of a new HQ building as more economical in the long run than leasing needed space in the area. A new long-term lease on a building to house GMUG staff would be twice as costly as its current lease which is expiring soon, he said.blog comments powered by Disqus