Archive for Wednesday, June 28, 2006

City looking for land for new buildings

Masonic Lodge site one possibility

June 28, 2006

The city might pursue swapping land with the local Masonic group in pursuit of a new city hall and police station.

The topic came up during a work session last week as council members met with department heads about the city's capital budget and five-year budget.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said Masonic officials may want to trade land that the Masons own north of city hall with property the city owns. The city's property is at Third and Main, in the same block as the Masonic Lodge and the current city hall.

The city recently purchased a house on that corner, which is north of the city shop. The city purchased the land as the council evaluates building a new building that potentially could house a council meeting room and municipal court, city offices and the police department.

Yanez said Masonic officials have been looking into building a new lodge.

"That would make next door available," Yanez said.

At Monday's council meeting, the council approved putting the house up for sale, if the new owner would move the house and fill in the basement.

During the work session, Yanez proposed that $2.7 million be earmarked for a city hall/police station facility in next year's capital budget. Yanez recommended that money be borrowed for the project and the city make payments for 10 to 15 years.

Council member Ron Cranor said the city is in need of a new facility.

"It's a sad state of affairs, that city hall that we have," Cranor said. "If we're going to be a big city here, we need to look like a big city. We look like Tobacco Road sometimes over there."

"I want to see Butch get a new shop and I want to see us get a new city hall," Cranor said, referring to a new city shop, which is planned near the wastewater treatment plant.

Council Member Velda Roberts, though, doesn't want the new city hall connected to the police station.

"I see no value in putting a courtroom with a police station," Roberts said. "I've been too many other places where it's been otherwise."

Roberts also disagrees with the proposed site for the new city shop.

"Everyone knows I don't want a public works building down there," Roberts said. "I'll be overruled on that and that's fine and I think we'll regret that it's built out there."

At Monday's meeting, the council voted unanimously to move ahead in obtaining construction designs and bids for a new shop, which is expected to cost about $2.17 million.

Some other budget items included replacement of two fire vehicles for $400,000, swimming pool renovations for $250,000 and a city Web site makeover for $10,000.

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the 2007 fiscal budget and give it final approval Aug. 14.

Its next work session will be 7 p.m. next Wednesday in council chambers to discuss the operating budget.

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