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Bunn officials ponder a new town hall

BUNN -- It wasn't exactly Christmas in July, but town officials have begun looking at a gift, in a sense -- a new town hall.

During the board's July 30 meeting, commissioners and staff updated the community about their efforts to secure funding, potentially, for a new town hall.

"They have always talked about a new town hall and trying to find money for it," Town Clerk Pamela Perry said of the board's discussion about replacing a building that dates back to 1930.

Perry, Mayor Marsha Strawbridge and Commissioner Sherry Mercer have had some discussions with representatives with the USDA about funding options, either a grant or a loan.

Perry told commissioners on Monday night that USDA staff have said that a loan seems like the best option, but a USDA loan should be the last option for the town.

"I asked what's the difference between going to the bank and getting a loan and going through [the USDA] and they said the bank would have an interest rate a tad bit higher than what they would and the bank would have a shorter payment period," Perry told commissioners and residents during the meeting.

"[The USDA] would have a longer payment period, there would be less paperwork with the bank [as opposed to the USDA].

"The USDA," Perry said she was told, "would be a last resort loan."

The conversations so far, including Monday's discussion, officials said, have been nothing but cursory, essentially.

The town has not had specific discussions, yet, about where they'd want to build a new town hall, whether they'd want a stick built building, pre-fabricated or metal structure.

Besides town hall staff, the building is also home to the police department.

Years ago, the town stopped hosting its meetings at town hall because there was not enough space for the board and the public, if they chose to attend.

In the summer of 2010, the town bought the building on Montgomery Street, behind Arnold's gas station, to house its grounds and utility equipment.

The space also includes an area for town hall meetings.

The $120,000 purchase was the last big ticket building purchase for the town.

Time could be coming soon for the town to look at its next purchase in the form of a town hall.

The most recent town hall improvements in Franklin County belong to Franklinton, when in late 2008, they bought and renovated a building next to Town Hall, creating an annex for meeting space at a cost of about $162,000.

Last year, Youngsville moved into its new town hall/police department complex, a move that cost about $880,000 -- including the purchase and renovations.
While no decisions have been made in Bunn, it may be time to do so, leaders said.

"Town hall is small and it's old," said Perry, noting that they also have issues with storage capacity.

"We need something," she said. "We are growing and we need something to grow with the time."

Town officials said they will seek interest rate and loan information from area banks, as well as talk with local builders before making any decisions about a new town hall.


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