Several citizens attended the “Open House” for the proposed Downtown Plaza on Aug. 18. As far as I can tell, over 100 people attended, virtually everyone who was there opposed the plan to relocate city hall to the Stoker School property at a cost of $13-$15 million. Again on Sept. 13, there was a public hearing regarding the issue. After a couple of hours the public hearing was closed and the mayor turned the time to the council to vote on the issue. During the public hearing, virtually all of the citizens were opposed to the plan. They postponed the vote until Oct. 25 and after all of that input from the citizens, the mayor and council voted to demolish the Stoker School and appropriate $13-$15 million to build a new city hall downtown.
I thought this was settled three years ago when a large majority of citizens opposed building a new city hall, and the mayor and council voted not to build a new city hall. During the course of the debate on this issue the last few months, some very knowledgeable and creditable people have gone through the building and concluded the building is structurally sound and well built. They indicated it needs a new roof, carpeting, painting, HVAC update and some fiber optic improvements. They suggest this can be done for $3-$4 million and we would have a beautiful updated building. That’s what the citizens do with their homes if they need a new roof, carpeting, HVAC or painting – they fix it and don’t build a new home.
After following this issue the last few months, it makes absolutely no sense to me to squander $13-$15 million when the same objective can be met for $3-$4 million. It only takes a few minutes to walk through and see what a beautiful job has been done remodeling the Mayor’s, City Manager’s and reception area, complete with new furniture, paint and carpet. It’s beautifully done. That can be replicated through the entire building. It is a 32,000 square foot building with only about 30 full-time employees (the rest of the city employees are in the Power Department, Road Department, Water Department and Police Department, etc.). The current building is underutilized with the basement only half finished.
It can’t be that the building is too old – it is 37 years old – and is newer than most of the houses the taxpayers live in. The city has purchased two buildings in the very recent past; one a 90-year-old house on Main Street and 300 North for a museum, and another 90-plus-year-old building on Main Street for the Bountiful Davis Arts Center. The city just spent $4.9 million for the property east of the cemetery for future cemetery expansion, even though the city had an opportunity to buy it just weeks before that for $3.5 million.
I am strongly opposed to squandering $13-$15 million to build a new city hall when they could remodel the existing city hall for $3-$4 million as stated above. All of these actions deplete the Project Development Fund (Rainy Day Fund) when saving some of those funds could be used for more pressing city needs, such as badly needed road repairs.
I applaud the group that has initiated a Referendum Petition to obtain signatures to delay the decision until it has been taken to the citizens for a vote. The petition does not request a vote for, or against, building a new city hall. The language is very clear…”be referred to voters for their consideration in the municipal general election to be held on November 7, 2017.” That seems to me to be the American way – having citizens decide. I encourage all citizens to support that group’s effort by signing the petition.