Offices in closets, no real “front door,” leasing other space for an entire department. All those things describe the Wendell Town Hall.
Built over 50 years ago, the town has gotten its money’s worth from the facility at the corner of Pine and Fourth Streets.
And so it was interesting to hear town commissioners’ discussion when it came to addressing plans for updating the building.
Perhaps the most telling comment – other than Mayor Tim Hinnant’s ridiculous suggestion that the town ought to think twice before it spends money on the town hall – came from Commissioner John Boyette.
Taking his cue from Hinnant, who said he could see the town staff operating from the existing facility for the next 10 years, Boyette pointed out that the lead time for constructing a town hall is fairly significant. He suggested that it would take five years to build a new one.
His implication clearly was that the town needs to begin now to plan for a new town hall.
That means selecting a site, floating a bond issue to pay for it, and the actual construction of the facility. All that does, indeed, take time.
Commissioners – Boyette being the obvious exception – don’t seem at all interested in investing in the town. There was very little discussion during last week’s meeting about how the board expects to meet those long-term needs. That’s despite the fact that the town has virtually no general obligation debt to worry about.
The town board – largely influenced by Hinnant – seems more interested in waiting for its ship – in the form of Wendell Falls – to come in.
But here’s a secret. If the town waits for Wendell Falls to build out, town leaders will likely come up with some other reason not to incur debt. Instead, they’ll figure out another way to limp by on what they have.
That’s not a good way to look out for Wendell’s long-term future. The old adage that says it takes money to make money applies here. If Wendell wants to attract development, it can start by investing in itself.
And the time to do that begins now.
Wendell commissioners should swallow hard and take a step into the future.