BOUNTIFUL — Bountiful City Councilman Tom Tolman took the controls of a bulldozer in the cold Tuesday evening and started crashing a backhoe scoop against what has been the Bountiful/Davis Art Center building.
“One era’s gone; another has started,” Tolman said.
The 50-year-old building has filled many roles over the years, as Mayor Joe Johnson recalled.
It originally housed city hall, a library, and police station and jail downstairs.
The police station and courts stayed behind in that building as a new city hall was built a few hundred feet to the east in 1978.
At that time, now-deceased Clearfield mayor Donal Townley called Bountiful’s new city hall a Taj Mahal, referring to the famous building bearing that name in India.
“The city is bringing city hall back to Main Street after (more than) 30 years,” Johnson said. Plans call for completion of the new city hall by spring of 2014.
That east-facing city hall will be remodeled to house the Bountiful/Davis Art Center and Bountiful/South Davis Historical Museum.
Originally, the museum, operated under the Bountiful Historic Commission, was raising funds for a separate building to be connected to the Bountiful/Davis Art Center.
However, following a structural and cost review, city officials determined it would be less expensive to move the museum and art center to the existing city hall building.
Tolman, who sits on the historical commission, was not happy with the decision.
“I took out my frustrations for not getting my (museum) building done” he said half jokingly while he manipulated the controls of the bulldozer.
Emma Dugal, executive director of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center, looked on as the building where she has worked for the past 15-plus years started coming down.
“It’s a little bit of both,” she said of feeling sadness at seeing the outside wall of what was the boardroom ripped apart, and optimism for the future.
Ernie Cox, a Bountiful resident who has run unsuccessfully for a city council seat twice in the last four years and opposed the new city hall, also watched Tuesday evening’s activities.
“I don’t know that we need a new office building,” he said. “Personally, I kind of think we don’t. I don’t see anything to justify why we need to build a new building.”
He said that his home is about the age of the 1978 city hall and he doesn’t consider 30 or so years too old to continue using a building for its original purpose.
“I think that money could be spent elsewhere, like in youth programs,” he said. “I’d love to see a baseball/softball complex for our youth,” he said as an example.
“I think a museum is fine if it’s paid for by the people who want it, but not by tax dollars,” Cox said. “A museum has no chance of paying for itself.”
Original plans called for a free-standing 14,000 square-foot museum south of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center. Due to the economic downturn, it was pared down to a 5,000 square-foot building that would be connected to the art center and include 4,000 square feet of shared space.
“We’ve been doing this (museum effort) for 10 years,” said Sandy Inman, a Bountiful Historical Commission board member. “We’ve been grateful to have office space to house family histories.”
The museum is housed in an office suite to the south of where the new city hall will be built, at 845 S. Main Street.