The numbers are in, and after a feasibility study showed that it would take $1.71 million to renovate the Gura Building as an arts center, members of the Southington Community Cultural Arts organization are confident they can make it work.
Ultimately, though, the final decision will lie in the hands of the Southington Town Council to determine if the study is complete enough and the project is realistic enough to move forward.
The SCCA last week, led by member Peter Veronneau, presented the study’s findings to the council. The findings determined that elevator installation and remediation would be more than expected. Initially, the project was estimated at $1.3 million before the study.
“We are very positive about this,” said Mary DeCroce, president of the SCCA. “Those findings don’t include potential savings or value engineering. We’ve already identified areas we could save to reduce costs and we are fully confident we could raise this kind of funding.”
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The council in September approved a motion setting a list of expectations moving forward that would need to be met in order for the town to lease the building to the SCCA. Under those conditions, the SCCA had 90 days to complete the feasibility study and, if approved at the Jan. 14 meeting, would have an additional 18 months to come up with at least 80 percent of the funding needed.
As part of this agreement, the SCCA would also be responsible for any administrative costs and the town would not be responsible for any in-kind services.
For a complete look at the provisions signed by the council and SCCA, click the link provided.
The project has not been without controversy, but much of it was settled when members of the council and town staff met with the SCCA to discuss differences.
The study itself was delivered to the council in a digital copy late last week, Council Chairman John Dobbins confirmed, but members of the council have not had a chance to review it in it’s entirety, he said Tuesday.
“Most of us haven’t had a chance to look through it, digest it with everything going on in the last week, it will likely be after the holidays,” Dobbins said. “WE want to do this right and we will talk with them in advance if there are any concerns. As far as the Jan. 14 (2013) agenda, hopefully we all will have looked at it and discussed it by then and we will see what the next step will be.”
Veronneau said late last week that the SCCA is prepared to move forward with fundraising – a message that was well received when Southington Town Attorney Mark Sciota told them not to “pass up” any money – and DeCroce reinforced that message this week.
DeCroce said the organization has already been in contact with the state about potential historical and cultural grants that could be available, including $200,000 and $250,000 grants that could be had with the help of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
The state grants are the first step, DeCroce said, then the organization can begin looking for donations, grants and other opportunities on a more local level. The SCCA is already preparing to make their push – but DeCroce said it will not happen until the SCCA receives full approval of the feasibility study from the council.
“There was confusion before and so we are preparing, but we aren’t going to make the push until we are given that 18-month period,” she said. “What I want at this point, we want it in writing. That’s what I expect.”
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