New facility will open later than anticipated
The Town of Twisp will take advantage of a low-interest loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program to restore some features to the nearly completed civic building and regional communications center on Glover Street.
The Town Council approved the loan agreement at its meeting last week. The town will borrow about $850,000 at an interest rate of 2.5% for 30 years, with anticipated payments of about $40,000 a year that will be serviced with a combination water, sewer and general operating funds from the town’s annual budget. The loan limit is $1.2 million.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said that while the town would have preferred not to draw on the USDA loan offer — which she earlier referred to as a stop-gap measure — “We have the ability to make that [annual] payment within the town budget.” The repayment formula can be adjusted within the annual budget as necessary, Town Clerk Randy Kilmer said.
The federal funds will be used to restore some features both inside and outside the new building that were eliminated earlier when construction bids for the new civic center came in higher than expected.
The council also learned that because of a combination of factors including supply chain issues and increased costs, the new civic building will open later than anticipated, but no firm date was offered by town officials. A ribbon-cutting ceremony had been anticipated in July, but Ing-Moody said that will now be delayed.
Staff will be able to begin moving into the new building from the town’s temporary quarters on East Second Avenue before the ribbon-cutting, the mayor said.
Public Works Director Andrew Denham said the federal loan funds will be used for exterior features to create the “plaza-like” setting originally intended, and for some interior elements that were left out earlier. He said costs will continue to escalate if the town doesn’t get the work done now with the help of the federal loan.
Ing-Moody said it’s important for the town to keep moving forward with the civic building project “without any doubt.”
State funds available through the town’s Creative District and the Complete Streets program will also be used to complete some aspects of the civic building project. The town also received a state capital budget allotment of $1.5 million in 2021 to augment the earlier funding it accumulated for the building, which totaled about $3 million from a combination of other capital budget appropriations, a state Department of Commerce community development block grant and town reserve funds.
In other business last week:
- The council accepted the Planning Commission’s recommendation of preliminary approval, subject to several conditions before final approval, for a proposed 10-unit townhouse development on Highway 20 adjacent to the Blackbirds complex.
Final approval will be dependent on the developers meeting requirements adopted by the Planning Commission after a recent public hearing. Those include conducting a cultural resources assessment, reaching accommodation with the Methow Valley Irrigation District over encroachment on the district’s irrigation pipe easement, and addressing the excessive housing density on the site as currently proposed.
Property owner Craig Bunny and developer Carla Smith of Everett-based Diversified Design submitted a proposal for a 10-unit planned unit development of townhomes on a .56-acre parcel directly east of the Blackbirds building on the north side of Highway 20 where it intersects with Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road.
According to a staff report by Town Planner Kurt Danison, the proposal is consistent with the town’s applicable zoning of commercial riverfront, and meets other requirements. However, Danison noted, the proposal exceeds the allowable density, which would limit the development to eight townhouse units. “The number of units will have to be adjusted prior to final approval or the applicant will need to request and receive a variance from the density standards … or acquire additional .5 acres of property,” Danison said in his report.
- The council set a public hearing date of May 24 for a proposed revision of the town’s comprehensive parks and recreation plan. The Parks and Recreation Commission was directed by the Town Council to come up with an updated comprehensive plan for an integrated recreation experience within the town and connections beyond. The draft plan expands dramatically on the existing 2014 plan.
Parks and Recreation Commission member Nick Hershenow told the council that the plan is deliberately broad, and that how it is implemented will depend on where the main interests of the town’s residents and leaders lie.
The draft plan also includes suggestions for possible funding sources, and time lines for developing major projects. The plan also includes potential improvements at each of the town’s existing park sites.
For more information, go to www.townoftwisp.com/index.php/recreation/twisp-park-gallery to find both a summary and a complete copy of the draft.
- Kilmer reported that under new state guidelines the council will need to begin meeting in-person (it has been meeting with remote access only during the pandemic) as of June 1. He said the town is looking a public venue for council meetings, since the new civic building won’t be available, with a remote access possibility included.
- Denham reported that while prep work to get the Wagner Memorial Pool ready for the upcoming summer season is underway, including necessary repairs of cracks and peeling, hiring of staff and lifeguards is going slowly and “we’re not even close to having the staffing level necessary” to open the pool.”
“It’s quite a concern to me this late in the season … more concerning than in recent years,” Denham said.