By Ann McCreary

Twisp is moving forward on developing a new “civic building” to replace the current town hall, which is plagued with structural problems.

The Twisp Town Council last week allocated funding to begin the first phase of planning for the new building. The council also approved funding for design of a new shop for public works vehicles that are currently parked in space adjoining the town offices.

Twisp is contracting with Architects West of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for design work on the projects.

Architects West will begin “programming” for the civic building project, during which the architects will work with the town and community to develop a vision and concept for the new facility.

Steps involved in this phase include a public input forum, a visioning session and user interviews.

The council approved $23,148 for the programming process, which is expected to begin this summer, said Andrew Denham, Twisp public works director. Architectural designs for the building will be developed after this phase is completed, he said.

The civic building would be built at the current town hall location on Glover Street, after the existing building is demolished.

The council approved $11,900 for design of the new public works shop, which will be located at the town’s Public Works Department property on Cottonwood Street.

The new facility will include storage for public works vehicles and public works equipment, a vehicle maintenance area and office space, Denham said.

Design and construction of the public works shop is estimated to cost about $500,000, and construction is expected to get underway this year, he said.

The town has received $970,000 in state funding for the civic building/public works shop project.

Town officials have said a new civic building should be designed to house town offices, provide public and community meeting space, and serve as an incident command center during emergencies like recent wildfires.

The wildfire disasters of the past two summers made it clear that the Methow Valley needs a facility that can serve as a command center, said Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody.

When town officials attempted to repair a leaky roof on the existing Town Hall building several years ago, they discovered numerous structural flaws in the building, and began searching for a way to replace it.

Design and construction costs for the new civic building won’t be known until the town and architects develop a clearer idea of the scope of the project, town officials said. Estimates developed by the town to request state funding in 2015 put the cost at nearly $3 million.