When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners reached a consensus to move forward with using grant money to pay for the first phase of sandstone replacement at the Riverfront Community Center.
The city already has about $1.6 million budgeted for the work in its Capital Improvements Program. This includes a $1.173 million state transportation grant. However, an architectural firm has estimated the work will cost at least $6 million.
City officials previously discussed the possibility of asking voters to approve a sales tax increase to help pay for the project. But City Manager Scott Miller said Tuesday that the idea of a local sales tax increase is “probably out the window” because a statewide 0.6-cent sales tax that is set to expire later this year may be extended.
Miller proposed breaking the stone replacement into phases.
“This isn’t something that needs to be to done immediately,” he said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation recently has notified city officials that a stone replacement project utilizing the grant money must begin by midsummer 2014.
“If not, we will probably lose the (grant) money,” Miller said.
He proposed moving forward with phase one using the grant, money from an existing countywide sales tax and Kansas historic tax credits for a total of about $1.64 million.
He provided a timeline that could result in construction work beginning in March or April, meeting the deadline set by KDOT.
Miller said it could take five to 10 years to complete all of the needed stone replacement work. He said it probably would take four phases to complete the work.
He proposed that for future phases, city officials proceed only if additional grant money and Kansas historic tax credits are available.
He said the front walkway, which has been identified as another problem with the building, can be monitored and replaced as needed as part of the CIP.
He said the roof currently has no leaks and may not need to be replaced for another five or 10 years.
In addition to the stone replacement work, the city will need to put money in the CIP for maintenance work at the building, Miller said.
The building, which was constructed in 1888, originally was a train depot.
Commissioner Phil Urban said he was in favor of moving forward with the first phase. But Urban said he then would like to focus on structural issues with the building rather than cosmetic ones.
Commissioners reached a consensus to proceed with the first phase. Miller said officials will focus on replacing stonework around the main entrance and then move to other areas on the west side of the building.