Trent looks at building options

The Trent town board met Thursday night on the stage at the Trent gym because the city office is closed after the building’s roof started falling in.

The Trent Town Board is looking into the costs of building a new shop and office space after the roof on its current building has started to fall in.
While no decisions have been made, the town board has been told by two contractors that the building is not worth saving because in addition to the roof, the walls are compromised and starting to lean. The contractors didn’t want to attempt to fix the problems on a building believed to have been built in 1912, Jonathan Damm, board president, said at a Feb. 13 town meeting.
“They both gave us the same answer. If you invest any money in the roof of that building, you’re just throwing it away,” Damm said.
The board has had a company draw up one idea for a 40-foot by 100-foot shop with an office on one end, but the town doesn’t have an estimate on what that type of alternative would cost. If the board looks at doing a new stand-alone building, it likely would go east of the Trent gym, Damm said.
If a new building is built, the old building, believed to be one of the oldest in Trent, would have to come down, he said.
The process would include coming up with a plan that would meet the town’s needs, getting an approximate price, applying for low-interest loans and bidding the work.
Some who attended the meeting said maybe the town could start by completing part of the building and adding as it has more money.
Charlie Ryan, a former contractor, said the city building has been on its last leg for a long time. In considering whether to build part of a project now and the rest later, it often is more economical to do it all at once, he said.
Harlyn Bokker, American Legion commander, attended the town meeting to see whether the gym would be available for the Memorial Day service in May. He supported the idea to build.
“I’m in favor of the new building. Don’t put another dime in that other building,” he said.
For now, the town is keeping its equipment, including a snowplow, two tractors, a few generators and a couple of lawnmowers, in the Trent gym. There is also space for town meetings there, and the town finance officer is working out of her home, so the town doesn’t have to heat the gym.
The town had to relocate its assets out of the city building because it wasn’t being covered by insurance since the roof started to fall. Board members looked at any available locations in Trent, but couldn’t find any alternative that would work, besides the gym, Damm said.
The town, which owns the gym according to county records, had to cancel a couple of events that were reserved by outside parties, but other events will go on, even if the board has to move the equipment out to accommodate, Damm said.
The move to the gym has one group of citizens concerned that work that has been done to make the gym more usable by the public has been wasted. “It’s kind of a slap in the face,” said Matt Larson, who worked to raise money to update the gym when he previously was on the board. A lot of people worked hard on the improvements, he said.
Moving into the gym isn’t something the town board wanted to do, said Rich Nord, board member. “Having it in here is an inconvenience,” he said. But, “it’s temporary. It’s not a permanent deal. If somebody has a better idea, we’re listening.”

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