Late last week I heard that with the latest “add”, the cost of renovating the City Hall is now over a million dollars. Already at $800,000, there’s now a quarter million dollar addition from Johnson Controls.
This has been one of the strangest on-going stories, at least to me, in a year full of strange stories.
When Al Roder first arrived in town, he floated the idea of swapping the library for the city hall. Not only did I think that cutting up the grand second floor space into little offices would be an aesthetic crime, I couldn’t really visualize the library space working for city hall. Al’s next idea was putting the city hall in the old College City Beverage building. Not only did I question the location for our city hall, it seemed to me that a town short of industrial space shouldn’t be converting one of its finest sites into a public use.
Fortunately, after probably too much time and too many resources, both of those ideas were dropped. In its place was proposed the substantial renovation of the city hall with the help of foundation repair Fort Worth. When Al was advocating for the library and then the CCB sites, he suggested that renovating the existing building would be cost prohibitive; a figure of two million dollars was bandied about in the informal discussions. As that concept rose to the top of the heap, the cost miraculously dropped to five or six hundred thousand. Now it’s back over a million.
Accordiing to Mr. Roder, the city hall project was all about increasing customer service.
I don’t know of a single citizen who thinks that spending a million dollars on the city hall is a good use of taxpayer money. Will a few more “adds” drive the price back to $2 million? Are the alleged gains in customer service worth $1 million or $2 million? Is it a better investment than a hockey rink, a performing arts center, or a new business park? With Al now in Norfolk, who is the champion for this project, pushing it steadily forward, and keeping it on the top of our list of priorities?
Somebody suggested that the thirty-day clock for a reverse referendum on this project is already ticking.