Walkersville board approves bridge renovation; floats future town hall improvements

·3 min read

Jan. 14—Walkersville's Board of Commissioners voted to release funds to be used for improvements to two of the town's bridges during its first town meeting of the year Wednesday evening.

The board also floated possibilities for a number of other improvements around town, including what Town Manager Sean Williams described as the final stages of the renovation of the Town Hall.

During the meeting, Public Works Director Joseph Birch notified the town's Board of Commissioners of cost estimates for the installation of guardrails and concrete work on bridges located on Biggs Ford and Devilbiss Bridge roads in Walkersville.

According to Birch, the total cost for the improvements to both bridges would come to $23,958. The approval of the funds was brought to a vote, with the board unanimous in its support.

Birch said more work would still need to be done, namely asphalt paving on Devilbiss Bridge Road, but the town will not be able to complete this work until the spring. Birch said there was no cost estimate at this time.

In other news, Williams discussed what seems like the final stages of the renovation of Town Hall: improving the building's HVAC system.

Williams came to the board with two options. First, Williams said the town could replace many parts of the current HVAC system and leave the current oil-fired boiler in place, which Williams says is currently in good shape. Williams said this plan would cost a total of $177,248.

Alternatively, Williams also suggested a more complete overhaul of the HVAC to an all-electric system, which would allow for more specific temperature control around the building than the current system allows. This option, which Williams jokingly called the "Cadillac option," would cost significantly more, at a quoted price of $585,379.

Commissioners Michael McNiesh and Gary Baker questioned whether the more expensive option would prove to save money long-term.

"If we save $250,000 by doing that, we should go with it," McNiesh said, before saying the cheaper option would be better if the more expensive option ultimately doesn't save money.

Williams admitted he wasn't sure if the more expensive option would save more money; he said he stopped looking into it when given the high price, assuming there was no way the board would approve it.

The board ultimately decided to continue to do research into the HVAC renovation before making any formal decision.

Additionally, Williams said his staff is recommending an increase to some fees in the town, including things like zoning fees, but no specific recommendations were made during Wednesday's meeting and will likely come at a later date.

Before Wednesday's main meeting, the board met with members of the town Parks Commission to discuss a series of proposed renovations to Heritage Farm Park. The board agreed to install two cattle gates within the park to help prevent people from entering the park at night, and Birch said he hopes to have them installed by the next town meeting on Jan. 26.

The board discussed the need for more lighting within the park, namely along the route from the entrance to the location of the Whitmore-Zimmerman Building, which is currently used exclusively by the Glade Valley Athletic Association. While the board agreed more lighting is needed, no specific plan was developed, as they said more research was necessary to determine whether the lighting should be electric or solar-powered.

Follow Patrick Kernan on Twitter: @PatKernan

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