Fact or fiction?

Town of Lingle holds community center question-and-answer session

LINGLE – In an effort to address questions and concerns regarding the proposed new community center, the Town of Lingle hosted a “Fact or Fiction Night” Tuesday. The majority of the chairs at Lingle’s Legion Hall were filled as approximately 40 residents participated in tours of the existing structures and listened to presentations from Mayor George Siglin, Jeff Logsdon and Bob Taylor of Benchmark, Clerk-Treasurer Michele Sussex and Goshen County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) Executive Director and CEO Ashley Harpstreith. Council members Joe Welte, Kelly Greenwald and Paula Newcomb were also in attendance.

The town plans to demolish the current Lingle Legion Post No. 63 building, located at 229 Main St., as well as the building at 237 Main St., adjacent to the Legion Hall, and construct a community multi-use facility. The town owns
both buildings.

The Legion Hall dates back to 1918 and does not meet safety codes, nor is it compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. At a recent meeting, Siglin said he expects the building to be condemned by this

Foundation repairs alone are estimated to cost $750,000, Siglin said Tuesday, adding multiple experts in the construction field – including engineers, contractors and building inspectors – advised it would be more beneficial to tear the buildings down and start from scratch.

“The point is, you’re going to have to do something with this building,” Harpstreith said. “It’s a condemned space … you need a place to hold elections, you need a place to celebrate birth to death – it’s a quality of life factor. You need a central location. It’s critical for your quality of life and for the Town of Lingle.”

The current facility is used for meetings, gatherings, various celebrations and
craft fairs.

“This building is unstable, has asbestos and demolition is imminent,” Sussex said. “(The current building is) a health, safety and welfare risk … to all the individuals who are
using it.”

Logsdon and Taylor said the cost of the building was estimated using extensive records at their place of employment, Benchmark of Torrington, and discussions with various entities and contractors.

“We went and talked to some commercial, residential contractors to get some numbers from them … we used those numbers as our base,” Logsdon explained. “We had to start somewhere.”

The numbers were later refined at the request of the Wyoming Business Council and may continue to change slightly as the project

Preliminary estimates for the community center are $1,123,468.50, including more than $100,000 for contingency, for a 4,000 square-foot building. The town has secured all but $170,126.52 in funding – $2,000 from a Black Hills Energy grant, a $40,000 GCEDC grant, $365,567 from the Wyoming Business Council, and up to a $500,000 loan through Points West
Community Bank.

“We are not going to go over our budget, this is what we’re going to have to work with, we hope, and we’re not going to go over,” Siglin said. “We’re not trying to build the Taj Mahal. It’s a basic, simple building for community events.”

Residents in attendance Tuesday expressed concerns about Lingle’s ability to pay back the – up to – $500,000 loan from Points West Community Bank, and questioned officials whether the construction of a new building would cause utility bills to increase.

“If we get a loan from (Points West Community Bank) in the amount of $500,000 – that is what we are approved to go up to,” Sussex said. “We know that, within our budget, we can afford a $2,000 payment (approximately the maximum monthly payment should the town require a $500,000, 40-year loan at 4 percent interest). We end up putting roughly $4,800 a month in our Wyoming Government Investment Fund … from the local option 1 percent tax, the fifth-penny that comes to Lingle. We would easily be able to take $2,000 from there, and still be putting money away, just not
as much.”

Sussex added the town may be able to take out a loan for less than $500,000, depending on additional funding, donations and the design, bid, build process.

Siglin assured residents utility rates will not increase to pay for the project, explaining the town raises electrical rates when the power supplier raises rates; water and sewer rates have not seen an increase since 2009; and garbage rates reflect a negotiated contract with TDS in Torrington.

“We are not raising (any) of those to pay for this project,” Siglin said.

“It’s illegal by state statute,” Sussex said. “We can’t.”

“And we won’t,” Siglin added.

The town continues to apply for grants and accept donations to cover the gap in funding and will not move forward with the project until all monies are secured as budgeted.

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