If Riverdale Park resident Emily Fanning gets her way, her town hall will hold many more of her free doll making classes for children.
Fanning, 73, owner of Aunt Emily’s Doll Shop at the Riverdale Park Town Center, said she favors a plan currently being looked at by town council members that would add an additional floor to the town hall and two new classrooms, which would create more space she could sign up to use for her classes.
Town officials are looking at two expansion options for an upgrade. One is a smaller renovation that would add about 2,240 square feet to the building for a larger lobby and expanded assembly space, which would allow for residents to hold events or have meetings, according to a presentation by architect Paul Mortensen.
Town officials paid $15,109 for Mortensen to create the initial designs.
The second option would add a total of 6,869 square feet, which would include the addition of a second story to the building, larger assembly space, two classrooms and a larger lobby and gallery space.
Currently, the 5,796 square-foot building includes the council chambers, a small lobby area, a conference room and five offices for town departments.
Fanning said she would be excited to see the town hall be renovated.
“I think it is great because I know there is a need for those kids,” she said.
According to a summer town survey, residents said they would like to see more space for events such as movie nights, performances and dance classes at town hall, said Mayor Vernon Archer.
“We want to get away from just the town hall aspect,” Archer said. “There is a need in the community for space and activities and we cannot meet that need.”
Archer said council members could choose to move forward with different aspects of each proposal, depending on what they think meets the town’s needs, but he favors the second option as it would provide greater activity space.
“The two-story version is much more desirable and I am really optimistic,” Archer said. “We would make good use of that larger expansion right now.”
Town Councilman Alejandro Silva (Ward 6), who supports the expansion, said he knows a number of residents that visit the town hall regularly and would be excited to see it expanded.
Town officials have saved about $900,000 for the project, which includes town funds and $275,000 in state bond grants, Archer said.
Although there is no official estimate on how much either option would cost, both would likely cost more than $1 million, Mortensen said
Despite the costs, Archer said he was confident that the town could pay for either renovation, because the town is financially stable. He said the town would also likely try to attract outside funding from Prince George’s County and the state to help fund the project.
Archer said he hopes that the Town Council would decide on the project by March.