Palisade looks at options for civic center

The town of Palisade is weighing the pros and cons of five plans for a civic center before determining how much it would cost.

The center would be built in the historic high school building acquired from District 51 earlier this year.

Two meetings were held this month to gauge the public’s interest in the plans, which would relocate town administration and possibly the public safety headquarters to the school site while making room for recreational space. Tim Sarmo, Palisade town administrator, said people who attended the meetings were excited for the project but would rather have the historic high school renovated and not torn down.

“The town is growing,” Sarmo said. “We’ve pretty much outgrown the local facilities.”

The high school building is vacant with the exception of the Valley East alternative school and the Palisade branch of the Mesa County library, Sarmo said.

One option would have the building renovated to house town administration, municipal courts and a gym, while the annex would continue to house the library and Valley East. A separate building would be built for fire and police facilities.

Another option would be tearing down the buildings and building a new facility for town administration, the library and public safety, among other things.

“Right now we’re weighing disadvantages and advantages to each option,” Sarmo said. “The public doesn’t want to lose the rec center idea, for example, and there’s been mixed reaction to the public safety aspect.”

The District 51 board of education approved an agreement with Palisade on Nov. 26, 2007. 

Sarmo said the town officially acquired the site Jan. 2.

According to the agreement, the town gets the buildings, and the district can keep Valley East at the site rent-free for the next 10 years. Palisade must assume the maintenance and utility costs of the buildings, including the school, for up to $13,000 annually.

“This was not a donation on the part of the district, but a great partnership,” Sarmo said.

“We’re putting a building into use and assuming operation and liability.”

Sarmo said the next step in the project is to narrow the options and map out costs for each.

It’s too early to say how the project would be funded, Sarmo said, but it could include a variety of sources such as general funds or debt funds.


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