2010-10-21 / Front Page

Outside firm sought for Ft. Getty planning

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Jamestown Town Council this week endorsed a proposal to ramp up the long-standing effort to gather community opinions on the future uses of Fort Getty. There have been many previous efforts to gather Jamestown input on Fort Getty, typically with town surveys. However, during its Oct. 18 meeting, the council decided that the best way to get the Fort Getty Implementation plan off the dime would be to hold a charrette – one that would be administered by an outside facilitator.

The next step will be drafting the request for proposals (RFP) that the town will use to solicit bids from facilitators. It is estimated that the charrette will cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.

Council member Bill Murphy expressed some hesitation about the charrette and its expense, pointing out that “we’ve done Fort Getty surveys for five, 10, 15 years, and another one this year, and we always get the same results.”

Council president Michael Schnack said that, in the process he has outlined, the charrette would be held primarily to inform a series of subsequent workshops – and the council debate and decisions that will follow the workshops.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer said that, without advocating one way or the other, it was her experience that professionally-facilitated charrettes “raise [such gatherings] to the next level and attract many more people to participate.” Bryer will propose list of facilitator qualifications for inclusion in the RFP at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Council.

The councilors also set the stage for eventual decisions on the future of town properties at Fort Wetherill, voting to schedule an Oct. 25 workshop on a recent appraisal of them. Council member Bob Bowen said that one benefit of the workshop would be dispelling the “wrong impression” from “incorrect and poor reporting [on the appraisal] by the Jamestown Press.”

The appraisal was performed for the Town by the Newport Appraisal Group, LLC. Its 45-page appraisal report was discussed briefly during the Oct. 4 meeting of the council.

Bowen was referring to an Oct. 7 article, which incorrectly quoted the appraisal as saying that the market value of Parcel A, which lies west of waterfront Parcel B, was $590,000; the article should have said that the market value was appraised at $1.1 million.

The article also quoted the appraisal as saying that the total value of Parcels A and B was $2.24 million: the article should have qualified that total by saying it was $2.24 million only if the value of Parcel B was $1.14 million – an appraisal which assumes “fee simple disregarding the existing lease.” The value of Parcel B was appraised at $590,000 when the estimate assumes “leased fee based upon existing lease.”

The Oct. 25 workshop, which will start at 6:30 pm, will also address an additional topic: the use of $450,000 in grants to the Safe Routes to Schools program for sidewalk and crosswalk improvements. The presence of Indian artifacts known to exist in the areas of proposed improvements raises issues that the council needs to address before the work can start.

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