(Note: This was originally posted on June 25, 2006 and outlined my view of the future use of various City buildings. At the October 17, 2006 City Commission meeting, the City Commission will review, and hopefully approve, the phase II portion of the Song and Associates study and authorize Ardaman and Associates to perform a hazardous materials analysis on the Library, City Hall Annex, existing City Hall and the Suffleboard Court building.)I know that the City enlisted Song and Associates to do a space utilization study of City buildings, but does anyone know the status of it? I think the first phase has been done for a while. I'll check this week to see what the status is.
City Hall Annex - (on the National Register) When are we getting rid of the utilities drive thru payment window? It is unsightly and creates traffic problems in the downtown during peak times.
Library - If only for symbolic purposes, the City needs to designate this as an individual landmark on the National Register. It is eligible for a myriad of reasons. It is already considered a contributing structure within the local Old Town Historic District - (This is confusing, and part of why we need to re-examine the make-up of our historic districts, but there is a National and local district version of the Old Town Historic District.). The threshold for the number of contributing structures is higher with the National designation, but really doesn't offer additional protection to structures within it. They are still subject to the regulations contained within our Historic District Ordinance. It is more of a symbolic and honorary title that notes the District is of a higher quality than just a local designation. We really need to re-look at the downtown and see if it can now be, because of age, one National district.
City Hall - Let's gut it. (The symbolism is not lost on me and it would not be lost on others).
Return it to a Municipal Auditorium (see area above eastern/western door). Find a new location for City Hall farther to west that can adequately house our City staff, perhaps combining it with other functions such as the future transit stop on the FEC rail road, light retail or other complimentary uses. Returning our present City Hall to its original and intended function would give the City a central place to assemble (especially City Commission meetings) that would be under the City's control (not a school auditorium) and also be available for live musical performances, films, etc. If most of the building's activity took place at night, then parking would open up for other uses around the City Hall "block" during the day. It could be a major destination and really affirm the City's commitment to historic preservation. By providing a larger venue for City meetings, we would be true to a policy of open government and encouraging citizen participation. We would also be encouraging our performing arts community through establishment of a performing arts center.
The building/property is also not individually designated - should be, again likely National Register eligible (might help with securing grant monies for remodeling). It is in both the local and the National Old Town Historic Districts.