ASHLAND, Ore. — On Tuesday night, the Ashland City Council met to discuss a proposed $10.6 million project that would either repair or replace City Hall and a handful of other historic downtown sites.
City officials say that the current City Hall building has potential to be structurally unsound in the event of an earthquake, and the current proposal would see the old building torn down and a new one built in its place. This part of the project alone would cost $7.2 million.
"The City Hall building is an un-reinforced concrete masonry building . . . it's over 100 years old, its not seismically safe — if there was an earthquake the building would basically come down," said city administrator Kelley Madding. "The City Council understands that, wants to create a safe environment for its employees and have a City Hall that isn't risking people walking by if there is an earthquake."
The project also includes $2.1 million for the installation of three 200-kilowatt solar panel systems at the Ashland Service Center, which is where the city's Emergency Operations, Public Works and Electric Department are located.
Finally, the proposal covers major repairs for the currently-shuttered Community Center, Pioneer Hall, and the Butler-Perozzi Fountain — all historic fixtures of Winburn Way along Lithia Park.
The question of where the City Hall should be located has been under discussion for about 20 years. Most recently, Mayor Stromberg sent a recommendation to the City Council, recommending that the new building should stay at its current location in the heart of downtown.
"The mechanical, the heating and air conditioning are very old and are going to be in need of repair or replacement — and that is going to be very expensive," said Madding. "So, I think it's thought that the best investment is to invest in a new City Hall that will last 100 more years."
Under the current proposal, funding the project would require a 20-year capital improvement bond — costing Ashland homeowners about 26 cents per $1,000 in assessed value.
"A property tax payer with a residence with an assessed value of $400,000 would pay an estimated $105.00 per year," the Mayor's report states. "Currently that same property tax payer pays $92.00 per year in taxes that will go off the tax rolls June 30, 2020."
The bond would have to be approved by voters on the May 2020 ballot for the project to go forward as proposed.