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Talent seeks civic center ideas

TALENT ' Residents are invited to help design a proposed civic center next week. They'll get quick gratification, seeing the results two days later when a consultant and city staff come back with conceptual drawings.

Components of the civic center will be built as the city can afford them.

We're going to consider it now so that it all fits together, rather than doing it piecemeal, said Ben Bergreen, a Civic Center Master Plan Committee member. It's not going to happen overnight. It will have some cohesiveness when it's done.

The opening session is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the community center. A follow-up session takes place Thursday at the same time and location.

— An architect's analysis shows the city is short of space, and the problem will be worse in 10 years. The one-story, concrete-block City Hall was built in the 1960s.

Residents will consider the building site and landscaping on nearly four acres that includes a recent land purchase, another site to be acquired and current holdings. City Hall, the community center, the library, an old fire station, and a small archive building are already on the land. A replica of the old train depot that the city will lease is under construction. Except for the community center and the new depot, all buildings on the site likely will be demolished, said City Administrator Betty Wheeler.

The city may go to voters with a bond issue for construction in November 2004 and the project may get federal Community Development Block Grant funds. The city was recently informed of its eligibility based on census data that showed lower income levels.

We sadly have become eligible for that, said Wheeler. It gives us some opportunities for grant funds and economic development bonds also.

The public design process is being financed with a state grant, which also pays for the space analysis and staff support for the civic center committee, which has met since an initial community input session in August 2002.

I wanted to make sure that someone from the community, as a citizen, was involved with the whole process, said Katrina Hill, a committee member and former councilwoman. She hasn't heard of any opposition to the civic center.

After the May 22 session, the committee will review the designs at a June meeting. The council will consider them at a later date and could send a bond measure to voters.

The design is not going to be a detailed architectural drawing, but it will be sufficient to be used to both determine the cost and hopefully to educate the public, said Wheeler.

A new library, funded by a countywide bond measure, will be built at the site by 2006. The police department headquarters also may move from Rapp Road to downtown.

Besides replacing City Hall, the city will consider a multi-use building that might house the Talent Historical Society, the Food and Friends Meal Program and other programs currently in the community center.

Urban renewal priorities include nine projects Talent's Urban Renewal Agency has been instrumental in the construction of a replica of the town's train depot, the coming rebuilding of Main Street and improvements at the city skate park. But it won't rest on it laurels.

A list of priorities for the next two fiscal years contains nine new projects ranging from a street rebuild to light pole conversions. Among them are:

Creation of a Front Street master plan. The narrow, two-lane street runs next to the railroad tracks just across from the depot and the skate park. A public involvement process will be held on the upgrades.

An economic development plan to enhance the business climate. It could include grants or loans to rehabilitate buildings. High-speed Internet connections may be part of the plan.

Restoration of Wagner Creek Bridge, designated a primary historical resource for the city. It was built in 1914 and needs concrete work to preserve its features.

The agency purchased land for the depot and an expanded civic center as part of its plan to enhance development of civic properties. When improvements are completed, the agency will turn the sites over to the city.

Talent?s transportation depot is part of an urban renewal project that includes a new city hall and civic center. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli