Ashland, Ore. – Ashland’s public works department will submit a renovation proposal for Pioneer Hall.
During the winter months, the city uses it as a winter shelter. But, if the proposal isn’t approved That could change.
The city of Ashland has been using Pioneer Hall as an event space by day and a winter shelter by night for the last five years. However, the city now has to submit a proposal to renovate the property to get the building up to code.
“With that winter shelter, we kind of are dancing around the occupancy and the acceptable occupancy from a fire code standpoint. So if we use it for a winter shelter normally and not in an emergency situation, we need to do some different renovations to make sure we can continue to use that,” said Paula Brown, Public Works Director.
Brown is in charge of the proposal. She says the building is in need of a new fire sprinkler system, updates to the chimney and other renovations the city has been holding off on due to budget constraints.
The building is currently only zoned to hold large groups in an emergency situation, but the city uses the building as a shelter most nights during the winter weeks for the homeless and transient community.
“So, we have to have fire watches and things like that during the winter shelter operations. So it makes it inconvenient and we need to make sure we’re safe from a fire standpoint,” Brown said.
Brown says the changes proposed could range from $325,000 to $400,000. Something the city may not be ready to shell out, and if council doesn’t approve the funds the winter shelter could end altogether.
“Those are councils decisions tonight, what’s the use, what’s the cost, what’s the time frame,” she said.
Public works will submit the proposal at tonight’s city council meeting. If the proposal for a permanent winter shelter isn’t approved, there would be no changes made and the building would remain an event space.