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St. Helena Scouts, service clubs offer to help city fix Scout Hall

St. Helena Scouts, service clubs offer to help city fix Scout Hall

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Scout Hall

Local Scouts and service clubs are offering to help the city fix up Scout Hall.

A coalition of Scouts and service clubs wants to collaborate with the city to patch up Scout Hall.

Boys Scouts Troop 1 and its sponsor, the St. Helena Rotary Club, are proposing to help raise money for exterior improvements to the building: a new roof, new siding and new paint.

They’ve already solicited the help of organizations like the St. Helena Kiwanis Club, Federated Women of Upper Napa Valley, American Legion Post 199, Odd Fellows, Grace Episcopal Church, and Native Sons of the Golden West. They hope to obtain donated or discounted supplies and materials from local businesses.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, city councilmembers said they like the idea of a public/nonprofit partnership and encouraged staff to work with the clubs to hammer out the details.

“The building is in terrific condition, but the exterior hasn’t been treated in 38 years,” said Assistant Scoutmaster Jon Dodge. The hall was renovated and largely rebuilt in 1982 thanks to a community effort organized by then-City Councilmember Gregory Hunter.

“We want to make this a community event,” said Rotarian John Muhlner. “We would like the city to join us and hopefully you can do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of the money. We would like to see this building brought up to a standard where we can be very, very proud of it.”

However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, including who will be in charge of the effort, whether the city will retain ownership of the building, how much of the work needs to get done right now, and how much of the estimated $250,000-$300,000 cost will be paid by the city.

During high winds last weekend, the city closed the sidewalk in front of Scout Hall because of fears that a parapet might collapse. There’s also a tarp on the roof to protect it from leaks.

“I sense some urgency, and I sense a project that will drag on for months and months when there are some things that may need to be done maybe at the $50,000 level right now,” said Vice Mayor Paul Dohring.

The city might fix the most pressing problems immediately and then set a longer timetable for the public/nonprofit partnership.

There are two basic options: a city-run project with a combination of private and public dollars or a privately run project with the service clubs responsible for the fundraising and the actual work. The use of public money would trigger various requirements under public contracting laws.

Councilmember David Knudsen said he’d prefer the second option, following the model of the Crane Park Little League fields and the Snack Shack.

“I don’t think the city has to run this job,” he said.

There’s also the matter of whether the city would follow the recommendation of the SHAPE Committee to donate Scout Hall to the Scouts for $1 and retain ownership of the underlying land.

Boy Scouts Committee Chair Stu Smith said Troop 1 is not set up to own property, but Knudsen suggested that a new entity could be formed to take ownership of the building.

Councilmember Mary Koberstein said she’d also like to investigate electrical improvements and structural matters, which would go beyond the $250,000-$300,000 estimate for the exterior.

“If we’re going to do something, we should do the guts as well as improve the outside and the roof, which clearly needs work,” Koberstein said.

City Manager Mark Prestwich will report back to the council after meeting with representatives of Scouts and the service clubs.

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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