ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee
April 26, 2017
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way 1:30 p.m.
Committee Members: Dichiro, Finklea, Kenefick, Kramer, Miller, Pearce, Richards, Shaw, Thalden
Staff: Fleury, Karns, Kathol, Morrison, O’Meara, Seltzer
Absent: Boldt, Nickels
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS: Karns opened the meeting and thanked committee members for their time commitment. He added that Committee members were selected due to their diverse backgrounds. Committee members then introduced themselves and gave a brief background. Karns asked that committee members keep an open mind and consider the need for the City and what is best for the community as a whole. The committee will be reviewing the options of rehabilitating, restoring or moving out of the current City Hall building(s).
REVIEW PURPOSE OF COMMITTEE: The Mayor had asked Dichiro to Chair the committee. Emails had been sent to committee members prior to the meeting reviewing a number of options to consider for the project. Karns emphasized that the purpose of the committee is not to discuss the need for a new City Hall building because that has been determined. The purpose is to review the options and determine the best option for the community. In addition, the Agenda contained the following Purpose for the committee:
- Identify the best option for improving/replacing City Hall (meets the work space needs through 2031 and
provides reasonable degree of seismic safety for employees)
- Determine the amount needed for the identified option
- Determine whether or not the City should seek voter approval of a General Election Bond (or series of bonds)
to fund the identified option and phase 2 of the Police Station
- If a GO Bond is recommended which election date is recommended
- If a GO Bond is not recommended identify options funding sources
- Provide a recommendation to the Council and the committee’s rational for the recommendation by early
Meetings will occur on the following Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (approximately 9 meetings before September):
May 10 – tour of City Hall and Winburn Way city buildings
May 24 – possible tour of Civic Center and Police Station
June 6 – possible tour of Lithia/Pioneer site, Elks parking lot site
June 21 – possible tour of Briscoe building
CITY HALL LOCATION OPTIONS OVERVIEW: Kathol presented a Summary of City Hall Replacement Alternatives PowerPoint. Karns reported that one option not mentioned in the presentation but also a possibility was Briscoe School, which is being used by a number of tenants. There is the potential option that the City and the Parks Department could partner in the building. The Briscoe facility needs some deferred maintenance work and there would be a cost to conduct a facilities assessment.
Kathol reported that the project began with a seismic evaluation in 2015 of the current City Hall building, which determined that the building would not withstand an earthquake. Preliminary options explored included a seismic retrofit of the current City Hall, which not only has structural issues, but roofing, plumbing, and electrical issues. Kathol said that it would be more affordable to tear down the current building and rebuild it. She added that we are fairly well compressed as a City and have a shortage of public meeting spaces. An architect (ORW) was hired and did a Space Needs Analysis. ORW interviewed with City leadership to determine departmental needs now and in the future. A lot of qualitative data was collected. The hard parameters came down to what are the City’s needs 15 years out? Kathol said there are not enough public conference rooms, not enough storage or employee space. Kenefick asked if the analysis took space needs into consideration based on today’s needs or needs in the future. Kathol said that most people affected by this project have a public interface. Being public union employees does not make options as flexible. Shaw asked if there had been a study on how big an earthquake would affect the City versus Reeder Dam. City Hall is the most vulnerable building. Shaw said when she was Mayor this was discussed and asked instead of looking at how much space we need, should we be considering how little space do we need? Kathol said that the Space Needs Analysis looked at what people’s function was more than what they needed.
City Hall currently houses 31 people. Projected staff growth by 2030 for both City Hall and ComDev buildings would grow from 65 in 2017 to 80 by 2030. Current City Hall square footage is 7745 and the Space Needs Analysis projected we would need 11,808 square feet in 15 years for City Hall, and 12,544 square feet for the Community Development (ComDev) building (current square footage is 9, 630) for a total increase in square footage from 17,275 to 24, 352.
A Feasibility Study Evaluated Sites as follows:
- Consolidate City Hall with four floors and a basement;
- Build City Hall and ComDev to the right size to our projected needs in 15 years.
- Consolidate at the ComDev site, which would require some seismic reinforcement.
- A new building at the Pioneer Parking lot.
Option 1 was eliminated as unfeasible. The 3 remaining options were presented to the City Council and the Council wanted to see more options, three more were added:
- Build new at the Civic Center; demolish the existing building and rebuild and consolidate with the existing Civic Center.
- Build new at Railroad property.
- Build new at the Elks parking lot.
Current Options are now:
- Do a Seismic Retrolift
- In-kind rebuild
- Right size rebuild plus Com Dev
- Expand ComDev and consolidate
- New at Pioneer Parking
- New at Civic Center
- New a Elk’s Parking
- New at Railroad property
Number 6-8 need professional cost estimates.
Kathol then presented cost estimates for each of the eight options, which ranged from about $4 million to $20 million. Cost estimates were in 2021 dollars, or 5.5% per year. The estimates included hard and soft costs, moving/rental space, contractor’s contingency, prevailing wage and a photovoltaic system. Kathol then presented a comparison of thirteen alternatives and how they provide for the City’s space needs, provide for centralized services, provide off-street parking, provide the potential to increase public parking, retain the Plaza presence, preserve the historic façade, eliminate temporary staff relocations, are above the Hosler Dam inundation zone, LEED potential not limited by existing infrastructure, and construction that would not limit downtown tourism – plus a 2021 estimated cost for each alternative. The charts will be uploaded to the committee’s URL site on the City website.
It was explained that the Helman heirs will need to be contacted to negotiate the current deed drawn up by the Helmans years ago. Kathol thought that if the City could file an action to a quiet title and remove diversionary interest then we had more flexibility. Kenefick asked if someone from ORW would be attending the committee meetings, and it was explained that OCW may want to bid on a project in the future, so would not be attending.
Kramer reported that he had attended the City Council on the first options presented and his impression was that the project started with a roof replacement and then expanded and this made the Council uncomfortable. He said that he had a lot of questions about the square footage projections needed. He felt that it would be beneficial for the committee and the City to have a discussion. Space needs are projected to double from today. Kenefick did not think we would need the extra space because Gen Ys do not need as much space. Otherwise, we will have to re-do things again in 15 years because the workforce will change. Kathol said we do assume that the conference rooms will be adjustable. A 15 year planning window is as far as you can look forward realistically. Kenefick added that flexibility is a key issue for any building. Predictable and unpredictable needs have to be considered. Thalden said that he had reviewed the ORW study and thought it projected to today’s needs. He agreed we needed to look at future needs and we need to look at the City as a whole and not just ourselves as a single unit. We should look at the possibility of utilizing and cross-purposing some of the City’s spaces. The City of Ashland uses spaces throughout the City, but there is a scheduling problem with other entities vying for the spaces. Kathol said City Hall will have 39 full-time positions in 15 years and has 31 currently.
PROPOSED NEXT STEPS: Seltzer said the next meeting is May 10. She will post the following on the City’s URL website for the committee: Kathol’s PowerPoint presentation, the City Hall deed, the ORW report, and one page from the citizen survey done in 2014. There is also a memo from the Police Chief on Phase one and Phase two of the Police Station on the site. (The City’s home page has Hot Topics with a URL link for the committee). Karns said that he would bring pictures of the original City Hall building to the next meeting. Future Agenda topics will include the background on the City Hall Deed Restriction, GO Bond impact on property taxes over 20 years and the Police Station Phase 2.
PUBLIC INPUT: Marilyn Briggs said that she has been in Ashland since 1961. She is a student of City Planning. She was around 23-24 years ago when the City Hall building was discussed. The City Hall should be on the square or the center of the City. She felt that we could not move City Hall from where it is now and have a viable City Center. Perpetual use is perpetual use.
Rick Vezie was a member of the original committee and wants to keep City Hall where it is. He said that when the Helman’s made the agreement, they had vision. He recommended the committee members read the Helman’s original deed agreement. He wants to maintain the building on the Plaza and develop ideas to use what we have more effectively. He was in favor of rebuilding the City Hall in its current location.
Shaw said that moving the Ashland Library was originally considered before it was rebuilt. Shaw felt that we must have anchors at both ends of the town – the Fire Station and the Library at one end and City Hall at the other end is a viable solution. Shaw added that once government becomes an entity - that is not a good thing. You need a civic presence in a viable and thriving downtown. She said she could support going to an initiative.
Kramer said City Hall needs to stay downtown. He did not understand why adding eight people meant doubling the square footage. He agreed that we needed to address current space needs but he does not believe the numbers are real and supportable and we need to look at keeping City Hall where it is. He also could support going to an initiative.
Dichiro said that the committee was there for diversity of viewpoint and we do not need to go to an initiative at this point. The main concern is that a seismic occurrence would be very destructive and that City services are key during a disaster.
Dichiro concluded the meeting at 3:10 p.m.
Shelly D. Hensarling