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Danville Express

Newsfront - February 20, 2009

Vets Hall committee looks at uses

Architects hold brainstorming session to help plan 'new' facility

by Geoff Gillette

In an effort to get a handle on the renovated or rebuilt Danville Veterans Hall, the Veterans Building Steering Committee examined how the facility will be used.

At their Feb. 9 meeting, members of the committee met with representatives of Architectural Resources Group (ARG) to continue laying the groundwork for a new design for the building.

ARG Principal Naomi Miroglio took the lead on the discussion, turning first to the veteran's representatives on the committee to get their take on what any new facility would need to offer.

Committee member John Estes said they are looking at a two-story plan.

"The way we looked at it was we'd be able to have all of our meetings and do our veterans business upstairs, away from the main event center," he explained.

Some suggestions were storage space for record keeping, a lounge area and a resource center.

The downstairs portion would likely hold the main event center, along with a kitchen.

Estes also said they would like the space to have workshop for leaders of each of the five veteran's groups.

Miroglio questioned whether each desk would be dedicated to each particular group with the same people using them always.

"Each desk will be dedicated but there will be different officers sharing that desk," responded committee member Lee Halvorson.

Some questions arose concerning how many of the groups schedule meetings and whether there would be any overlap. Because the group meetings usually draw between 15-20 people, committee member Scott Perkins suggested that an open office plan be used, with partitions to allow small groups to operate different meetings in the large space.

The conversation then turned to the events center, with the group working to determine how many people the facility should be able to accommodate.

Halverson said 350 should be "the upper edge."

"Crab feeds can see 200 and still have people turned away," he explained.

"I kind of think that if you build it they will come. My mind is make it as big as we can afford," said Committee member and Town Councilwoman Candace Andersen.

One thing the committee agreed on with regards to the event center is that it did not need a stage. Mayor Newell Arnerich said that with the Village Theatre available for uses that require a stage, the Veteran's Hall doesn't really need one.

"Make the room state of the art for audio and video," he suggested.

Regarding senior uses of the Vet's Hall, Miroglio said he'd noticed that the schedule of senior events is chock full.

"Look at all these Mondays," she said, "and all these groups using the events center."

"The timing on this for seniors is just perfect," said committee member Kevin Donovan. "One of the dynamics that we are seeing is that we are getting greyer. We're getting older and we're going to want to see expansions of programs."

He added that taking account of current activities and anticipating growth is going to be a challenge.

He also echoed Mayor Arnerich's comments regarding audio/video.

"We're going to need good lighting, good acoustics. There are times that we have people in here and they can't hear a thing," he said. "Since there's a lot of variety of programs it might be good to have different size rooms."

Suggestions were made to provide rooms for seniors to meet with social workers, as well as office space for town staff to handle program registration.

Many of the same needs were mentioned in regards to public use of the facility, which is the third facet of the plan. The only thing extra was mentioned by Perkins.

"If you're going to do weddings at this facility you need to have a private area for the bride," he said. "Keep in mind when you design it that you add in the little features to make the whole that much more functional."

One resident in the audience addressed the committee with his concerns. Claude Benedix asked that any work on the building be mindful of the existing trees at the site.

"There's seven redwood trees on the north side of the building. They're really mature. No way should those be damaged from the construction," he said. "And the small veteran's memorial needs to be preserved. We thought you ought to know that."

Miroglio thanked the members for their input and said that they intend to begin working on how to balance the various needs and uses of the facility.

The committee will meet next on Feb. 25, when ARG will reveal the results of its study into the historical significance of the hall and whether it should be kept as is, as a historical site.

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