Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 | 10:18 p.m.
Bureau of Reclamation officials billed Tuesday's meeting at the agency's office in Boulder City as the beginning of a new approach to allow greater public input on the group's plans to update and renovate its Date Street Complex, with the fate of one vacant building the chief object of discussion.
"We're absolutely committed to transparency," Deputy Regional Director Terry Fulp said. "We want to introduce ourselves."
Regional Director Lorri Gray outlined a plan for the Bureau to follow that weighs both economics and history. She noted many of the employees formerly housed at the now-vacated Date Street Building 100 contend with leaks and malfunctioning air conditioners in their temporary quarters.
"We will do as much as we can to maintain this historic preservation and provide long-term quality housing that our employees need in a manner that is right for the taxpayer," she said.
Archaeologist Laureen Perry said the Bureau has demolished some buildings at the site due to hazardous materials used when the quarters were used by the Bureau of Mines.
Now the fate of Building 100 is up for debate.
Beginning with work to retrofit the building to meet modern seismic standards, Bureau officials discovered a rash of other problems. In 2006, soil contaminated with DDT was found. In 2007, the roof had to be replaced. That same year, interior walls and flooring were removed and lead paint and asbestos were found -- on top of structural deficiencies with the walls themselves.
An engineer recommended demolition, said Steven Hvinden, area manager of the Boulder Canyon Operations Office. The Bureau began work on the project until halting it in June 2008 after the state Historical Preservation Office expressed concerns. Hvinden said the agency has sunk $2.6 million into the 9,600-square-foot building so far, and Fulp said the agency should have researched better before beginning repairs.
"We've learned," he said. "We won't make those mistakes again."
Now the agency has hired a historic architect to develop a range of plans for the building, who is expected to submit a final report in the spring. The report will be followed by a public review of options and the agency is expected to make a decision in November.
Because the building is no longer large enough to house employees scattered in temporary offices, officials said one option is to construct a new building at the complex while housing some employees at a refurbished Building 100.
The Bureau has also retained the Statistical Research Foundation to help foster a programmatic agreement between the Bureau and interested parties regarding future plans for the Date Street Complex.
Resident Mimi Rodden said she was encouraged by the agency's new stance. She said she has been frustrated with the agency's lack of openness in the past.
Rodden said she lives in an original house off Nevada Way and is interested in preserving Boulder City's historical structures. She said she was heartened by what was said at the meeting.
"I compliment the Bureau on letting people know what they're doing," she said. "I think they'll be much more successful."
Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or firstname.lastname@example.org.