The City Hall Advisory Committee said during its meeting on Thursday, March 23 that it hopes for a lively discussion at Tuesday’s City Hall Community Input Meeting.
“I was hoping to work with the public to really help define a vision for this whole project,” architect Rex Bond from ARC Architects said.
Bond lead Thursday’s meeting, which had the primary goal of reviewing discussion points for Tuesday’s Community Input Meeting, which will take place at Ballinger Clubhouse, 23000 Lakeview Dr. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with a presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s meeting will be the first of four large community input meetings. Smaller public outreach meetings have also happened in the last week and are scheduled in the near future, to be lead by members of the City Hall Advisory Committee.
Bond described his ideal input meeting to include getting input from the public in the form of single words that define what the public wants for the civic center near the intersection of 58th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest. Then, if enough people attend, attendees might break into groups to further discuss what they want to see in the area.
Attendees will be guided to discuss topics like where they would want the City Hall situated on the property, and to review pros and cons of proposed locations.
At the meeting, there will also be outlines available of the three previous attempts to pass a city hall measure, such as how much they cost, what each proposal included and what the voting percentages were.
On Thursday night, several advisory committee members said they expect that on Tuesday, they will need to address the elephant in the room: the cost of the project.
“People are going to make comments about cost,” Committee Member Dustin DeKoekkoek said.
“I’m uncomfortable moving forward without dollar amounts,” Vice Chair H. Stan Lake said. “We’ve got this huge taxation coming, and all of the sudden we’re looking at adding to that tax burden on something that has gone out in flames three times already. We have to be extremely careful about how we do this.”
Others at the table felt it might be too early to determine exactly how much the project would cost, so their efforts would be better placed in what the city needs.
“We all want to see that (the total cost), but it is very early on,” Committee Member Vic Sood said. “Right now, we need to know what the people want. If the question comes up, we should be ready for it, but what we need to focus on now is what the people want.”
While the committee is a few weeks away from hearing specific square footage costs, every member agreed that they need to be looking at the cheapest plan that makes sense.
“We should emphasize we want a base plan with an economical cost,” Chair Linda Rogers said. “What does an economical cost look like? We don’t know yet, but we’re looking at what our needs are rather than what our wants are.”
While the meeting on Tuesday may be early to determine costs, several committee members agreed it’s important to get the public’s input early.
“I think the goal here is to create a project we can get a ‘yes’ to,” Committee Member Stephen Barnes said. “This is another additional expense (for voters) unless we can say, ‘Hey, we cut the costs in half, we really tried to get something affordable so we don’t have to pay rent anymore.'”
“I think there are also some softer goals,” DeKoekkoek said. “We want it to anchor that side of town center. We want to give that neighborhood a sense of identity. I think just plopping a building down without thinking of those things would be unfortunate, and those things don’t necessarily mean extra costs.”
Bond said he is looking forward to Tuesday’s meeting and hopes for a large crowd.
“This will be fun,” Bond said. “These community meetings are a great opportunity for everybody.”
The first Community Input Meeting on Tuesday, March 28 is expected to discuss the project in broader, more surface-level strokes. More details about the space requirements and ballpark costs are expected to be available at the second meeting Community Input on April 20. A single concept is expected on May 10 with a final proposal ready for the City Council on June 5.
–By Natalie Covate