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Indian Hills board rejects office concept

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Indian Hills voters rejected a community complex, but that isn’t stopping a former leader from arguing for a new office site.

The Indian Hills General Improvement District board officially pulled the plug Tuesday on design work for a 10,500-square-foot community center with space for district offices. The board previously approved the work based on predictions voters would affirm a ballot question on whether the facility should be built.

The voters nixed the idea Nov. 7 by a 451-343 margin.

“They spoke and they said no community center, no office. It’s a dead issue,” said Dianne Humble-Fournier, a member of the GID board since August.

But Joanne Riekenberg, who with Rene Haskell was recalled from the GID board in June after they questioned plans for the community center, said the ballot action didn’t rule out a new office space.

“I do not feel the people voting this down means they do not want a professional office complex,” said Riekenberg.

Currently, the district headquarters are housed in two smoky rooms at 924 Mica Drive, and the public meeting area consists of a space created when a doorway between the rooms was widened.

“You can rent, you can lease, you can buy. There’s a lot you can do,” added Bill Wellman, whose company developed the Sunridge subdivision.

He previously suggested the district could move to an office complex that is planned at Sunridge. That offer was one of the factors that led Riekenberg and Haskell to challenge the need for a community center.

Haskell noted the district always planned to pay for office space and would have even if the community complex was built, because grants that would have been sought for the building couldn’t have been used for district office space.

The GID board members, who appeared to be slightly annoyed at Haskell and Riekenberg, said they’re going with the voters’ direction.

“I think everybody here would like to have a new office. I don’t think anyone here thinks we should go ahead with an office,” said trustee Dan Hall, who was appointed to the board in July.

“Maybe a couple of years down the road, but not now,” added board chairman Steve Weaver.

The vote to stop the work was unanimous.