When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners discussed options for issues they face with the Riverfront Community Center and the Carnegie Arts Center building.
Commissioners previously have been told that a sandstone replacement project for the exterior of the Riverfront Community Center could cost about $6 million. This figure doesn’t include other needed construction projects at the community center such as the replacement of the main entrance, according to City Manager Scott Miller.
The city came into possession of the building that housed the Carnegie Arts Center earlier this year when the center closed. The building reverted back to the city under an agreement that had allowed the building to be operated as the arts center.
Commissioners discussed the two buildings during a study session as they reviewed the proposed Capital Improvements Program plan for 2013-2017. The five-year plan includes $31. 5 million worth of projects for improvements to things such as streets, parks and city-owned buildings as well as the purchase of equipment.
Miller said a study of the former Carnegie Arts Center building recommended repairs that total $160,000 over a 10-year period. A more comprehensive study would cost $38,500.
The proposed CIP does not include any funding for the repair, renovation or rehabilitation of the building.
“Sooner or later, we have to decide what we want to do with the Carnegie Arts Center,” Miller said.
He said a building that is left vacant over time has a way of incurring more expensive problems.
He said there will be limitations to what a person can do to the exterior of the building because it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Commissioner Phil Urban suggested marketing the building.
“We don’t have a need for that building,” he said.
He said the city can enter into an agreement requiring a new owner to meet expectations. If those expectations aren’t met within a set time frame, the city could take back the building.
Miller later said he will start exploring the marketing of the building and may create a request for proposals.
The current CIP for 2012-2016 has only $1.6 million appropriated for the sandstone replacement work for the Riverfront Community Center. The proposed CIP for 2013-2017 doesn’t include any additional funding for the project.
The building also is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The Riverfront Community Center isn’t going to fall in, but something needs to be done,” Miller said.
The $1.6 million that has been appropriated for the project includes a $1.173 million state transportation enhancement grant.
Miller expressed concern that if the city waits too long, the state could take back the unspent grant money.
Page 2 of 2 - He said one revenue source that could be used to help pay for the repairs is sales tax increase. He a 1/4-cent sales tax increase would generate $875,000 per year.
He said such an increase would have to be approved by voters.
Urban said he thinks the commission needs to devote a meeting to discussing the issue, figuring out what alternatives exist and the direction each person wants to take.
Miller suggested meeting at the Riverfront Community Center with a representative of the architectural firm that has studied the building as well as someone from the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office.