Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — A group of Bountiful residents is asking the city to let them have some input on the planned city hall building.
Bountiful resident Dean Collinwood, along with more than 100 other residents, have requested that the city council halt construction plans for the new building, which is projected to cost the city between $9.5 and $10.5 million dollars. They presented a letter to the mayor and city council this week urging that construction not move forward until a public hearing can be held that explores lower-cost alternatives. (See letter on page 6.)
“Given the nature of this capital improvement, it seems like it would have been wiser to open it up for discussion,” said Collinwood. “Because they didn’t do so, they opened it up to a very costly plan. If they had, other ideas would have bubbled up.”
Collinwood and other residents have collected some of those ideas into an alternate plan, which they estimate would cost $5 million to remodel the current city hall and build a 22,000 square foot facility to house the Bountiful/Davis Art Center and Bountiful Museum.
Smith Hyatt, a local architectural firm who worked on several earlier proposals for the art center/museum building, estimate they could design a new building just north of city hall for $3 million. Remodeling the current city hall building, including installing double-paned windows and repairing the roof, would cost approximately $2 million.
The plan would also include turning the former art center property into a landscaped area that would serve as the centerpiece and official entrance to the entire campus.
“I think we can accomplish what the mayor wants to do,” said Collinwood. “We’re just swapping what’s new and what’s being renovated.”
The $5 million total is the same cost initially projected for the new city hall when it was voted on last year, and a figure still in place as recently as February. According to the council, the price increase came because the contractors’ bids were coming in at higher costs than anticipated.
“When we first had to choose between a new city hall or arts building, the cost was projected as being about the same,” said Bountiful City Council member Richard Higginson, one of two who voted against moving ahead with the more expensive version of the building. “I don’t think that anyone would have voted for a $9.5 million to $10.5 million city hall a year ago, but we swallowed a little bit at a time.”
Tom Tolman, another city council member who did vote for the increase, said that a new city hall building is still the right decision to make.
“If you put this off, the costs will just continue to accelerate,” he said. “The longer we put it off, the worse it’s going to be. If we remodel the current building it will give us five or 10 more years, but eventually it will have to give.”
According to the current plan, the art center and museum will move into the existing building after what Tolman estimates will be a $2.5 to $3 million remodel. That money will come from the city’s RDA fund.
“I think, since it will be used for a different function, we’ll get a lot more use out of it,” Tolman said.
Given the amount of work that has to be done, he also said that halting construction and holding a public hearing would be a waste of time. Since the money allocated for the building comes from capitol funds, the city was under no obligation to hold a public hearing about its use.
“All that’s going to do is prolong the inevitable,” he said. “We’re a year behind as it is.”
Higginson is more open to the idea.
“I think it would be responsible of us to see how the residents of Bountiful feel about it,” he said. “If there’s an appetite in the citizens for a $9.5 to $10.5 million city hall, let’s build it. If there’s not, I think we should hold off.”
Still, the matter has already been voted for approval by the city council.
“Barring some sort of change of heart, there won’t be any more drama,” Higginson said. “The council will move ahead as planned.”
Then he paused. “It will be interesting to see what the citizens’ group can do.”