Nearly a decade past its recommended replacement date, the Town of Lovettsville’s singlewide trailer, which houses overflow room for staffers and a space for closed session meetings, will remain in place as staff reviews a couple permanent office expansion options.
The Town Council last Thursday voted unanimously to direct staff to prepare a fiscal analysis for the design of a short-term and a long-term project to expand the town office. In the short-term, the first analysis will focus on the design of a project that could see the town converting the Quarter Branch Park barn into an offsite office for field staffers. In the long-term, the second analysis will focus on expanding the existing 1,250-square-foot office at a cost of $300,000, $500,00 or $750,000. Staff will review options such as how much the projects might cost, where the money could be pulled from and when the best time to begin work might be. Town Manager Rob Ritter will present the Town Council with his staff’s findings at the Sept. 26 meeting.
According to estimates made in 2015, renovating the Quarter Branch Park barn to add an office, a utility room and bathrooms for public works employees to use at the beginning and end of their days for administrative work could cost the town about $67,000.
Ritter first proposed the option to expand the existing office in February. At the time, the cost for a 4,180-square-foot expansion was estimated at $1.5 million, but Ritter has since downsized the design in square footage and cost, to as low as $650,000.
The town’s trailer was installed in January 2008 as a temporary solution to an overcrowded town office, which was built in 1975 for a staff that supported a population of about 600 residents.
The trailer at that time was intended to remain in place for up to two years. While the rent payment began at $342 per month, that doubled in the ninth year of the contract. In all, the town has spent $66,000 on rent.
In June, Willscot inspected the trailer and identified that it “is in need of some refurbishment due to the length of time it has been onsite and used as occupied space” and that its roof might not hold up well during the next snowfall.
In response, the staff presented the Town Council with a recommendation to replace the trailer with a new one from Mobile Modular, either by renting or purchasing one. While renting a singlewide trailer would have cost the town $40,036 in one-time setup costs, purchasing one would have cost the town $107,545.
Ritter also proposed to the council last week an option to bid on a 72-by-26-foot, six-year-old trailer that an Arlington County elementary school recently put up for auction. He said the trailer was in “really good shape” and that it might have cost the town about $73,000 to set up.
But after a 45-minute discussion, the council opted to forgo any options related to switching out the trailer. “I don’t think a trailer is what the town needs,” said Councilman David Steadman, who pointed out that the town wouldn’t allow anyone else in town to install trailers.