http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/08/22/danville-discusses-vets-hall-renovation


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - August 22, 2008

Danville discusses Vets Hall renovation

Project committee will include stakeholders

by Meghan Neal

There has been a lot of focus on downtown Danville recently, and one of the most significant projects on the horizon is the long-discussed renovation of the old Veterans Memorial Building.

After the Town Council recently approved the agreement transferring building ownership from the county to Danville for $200,000, council members and the veterans committee that spearheaded the project kicked into high-gear planning mode. The County Board of Supervisors transferred ownership of the building to Danville at its meeting Tuesday.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said Bob Chipley, vice chairman of the Veterans Memorial Building Development Committee of the San Ramon Valley.

Exactly what the new-and-improved Vets Hall will look like is still unknown, but the most likely option according to town staff is to preserve and expand the existing building.

Other options on the table include partially preserving the building and renovating it, or completely replacing it with a new one on the site, on the corner of Hartz Avenue and Prospect.

"We don't know all the answers to that just yet," said Chipley. "If they can design it using the existing building that'd be great, but again we have to leave it up to the architect."

The Town Council will appoint a committee of stakeholders to oversee the project, made up of two representatives each from various groups with a vested interest in the building: veterans, seniors, Heritage Resource Commission, Planning Commission and others.

The council discussed the makeup of the stakeholder committee at a study session last week. One resident attended the session to voice his concern that the new Vets Hall could disrupt downtown Danville's old-fashioned aesthetic. He suggested two members representing the general public be added to the committee.

Marianne Bordogna, a Danville Realtor who recently announced her candidacy for town council, seconded the suggestion. Mayor Candace Andersen said in a later interview that all the committee meetings will be open to the public and she encourages participation from the entire community.

"If people have an opinion, by all means, get involved, come to the meeting," she said. "It's really important that people come forward and give us their ideas of how we can really preserve that heritage."

Meanwhile, the veterans committee is focused on fundraising, having pledged to raise $3 million toward the project. The town has appropriated $5 million.

The committee is reaching out to community groups like Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley, Kiwanis Club and Danville Rotary to increase awareness and ask for support and input. Chipley mentioned the importance of involving new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There's a lot of those folks around that should have a part to play in this building," he said.

The veterans building development committee is also starting to identify big companies to solicit financial support. They're targeting "heavy hitters" in the San Ramon Valley such as AT&T and Chevron, Chipley said.

A brochure is being created that outlines the reasons to support the project. It will highlight the multiple uses planned for the new building and stress the benefits it will have for the town and surrounding areas.

"We're pretty sure the public's going to support it," Chipley said. "It's not just for veterans. It's secondarily - a strong secondarily - also for seniors and members of the community." He added that he realized some people might be worried about the impact of reconstructing the historically significant building.

"Whatever we do, we will try every way in the world to maintain some sort of image, as much as we can, of what it is today," he said. "To maintain the history that it has."

The Veterans Memorial Building Development Committee meets twice a month to discuss planning and fundraising. Everyone is welcome to attend. Once the stakeholder committee is appointed by the Town Council, public notice of its regular meetings will be posted.

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