Three options shown for Vets Hall | March 13, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - March 13, 2009

Three options shown for Vets Hall

Architects present building schemes to committee

by Geoff Gillette

Members of the Veterans Building Steering Committee are weighing their options in regards to the renovation of the historic downtown Danville structure.

At their March 9 meeting, the committee was presented with three possible building scenarios for the hall. Each had a unique approach on how to best maintain the character of the building as well as serve the needs of the three distinct groups who utilize the facility.

Officials from ARG, the architects chosen for the project, have been researching the project during the past several weeks and have taken the input they've received and put the ideas down into three schemes, which were presented to the committee Monday.

Two of the plans presented would maintain the front and side of the Vets Hall while removing the back portion to be part of a larger addition. The third would keep the building intact while adding on a building to the back.

All three plans would take the existing structure, a "T" shape, and add a secondary structure along the back, making it into more of an "H" form.

"What we're being asked to do is create a building with dual functions," said Naomi Miroglio of ARG. "One will be a dedicated use. We're looking at two uses sharing the middle."

In the first plan presented, the veterans would occupy the original space fronting Hartz Avenue. Seniors and community uses would enter from Prospect Avenue. This would also be the disabled access point, and the group would put an elevator at this location to give easy access to both floors. The addition to be built would be at street level so would be below the grade of the current facility.

The second plan would keep the building intact, and have the seniors occupy the section along Hartz Avenue. That would also mean that the ramp access would remain there as well. The current lounge would be used for the seniors and an additional counseling room would be utilized.

The veterans would then be housed in an additional space to be built onto the back of the current structure and would have their access from Prospect Avenue. One disadvantage of this plan, Miroglio said, is that because of the way the space would be used, they would most likely need to have two elevators in this plan rather than one.

This plan would follow the same grading as the current Vets Hall and would include a basement below the building to be used for storage and mechanical space.

In the third scenario, considered to be the largest and most expensive of the three, the front portion would be saved to maintain the historic character but a large scale addition would be built. There would be a second-story addition for community space and another addition on the second floor for the veterans, who would enter from Prospect Avenue.

ARG spokesman Charles Chase said this plan would be flexible enough to allow for the vets to have as much as 3,400 square feet in the community area to use for crab feeds and other events.

He added that both this and the first plan offer the possibility of putting a stage in the southwest corner of the community area.

Committee member Robert Storer asked if either the veterans or senior groups had offered a preference as to which entrance they would like to use for their programs.

Chase said they had not received any input on where the groups would like to be. He added that the design is such that both entrances will be aesthetically pleasing.

"The design intent is that both will have an equally attractive, welcoming entrance to the functions. There will be no front or back door," he explained.

ARG officials also said that these three design schemes are simply plans that they put together trying to incorporate the various concerns and wishes of the groups who use the hall. They can mix and match what they have, or even create completely different schemes from there.

"What we were doing here tonight is offering up some ideas. Our expectation now is that the committee will go back to their groups and see which ones they like," Miroglio said.

Mayor Newell Arnerich said the plans presented are a good start.

"I think these are great. These are different schemes. I think the possibility of getting rid of that ugly ramp out front would be great," he enthused.

Committee member Scott Perkins agreed.

"There's a number of aspects I like. Getting rid of that ramp out front would be good. I think that cleans up the front," he explained.

He added that he would prefer keeping the veterans in the Hartz Avenue side, as that entrance to the building is really what residents think of in regards to the Veterans Hall and he believes having them there would be symbolic.

"I never thought the vets would be anyplace other than the front of the building," said Storer. He suggested that in considering the plans the architects look at the cost of building a basement in comparison to the cost of adding square footage.

Committee members invited public comment, and first to speak was Danville historian Beverly Lane.

"I really think this is an exciting meeting. People have been talking about this ... to see some actual schemes is a real thrill," she said.

She added that she would like to get more information on the programming needs and cautioned the committee to examine those needs carefully and determine if the groups are asking for too much program space.

Miroglio said that the committee will now take the preliminary plans to their various groups to examine and see which ones will work the best for them. Officials are expected to regroup and discuss the next step at their March 23 meeting.