Editorial: Citizens need to become involved in new city hall project decisions

VVN/Dan Engler<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Cottonwood is considering replacing the hodgepodge of former retail stores, post office and bank that now make up the City Hall office space.

VVN/Dan Engler<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Cottonwood is considering replacing the hodgepodge of former retail stores, post office and bank that now make up the City Hall office space.

Cottonwood city government facilities have always been something of a patchwork operation; kind of like an old house with several add-ons and a stand-alone garage or two.

City Hall officially is located at 827 N. Main St., but the city council meeting chambers are just across the street in the same building as the Municipal Court, which has now been moved to a new site on Mingus Avenue. You used to pay city water and sewer bills at a building over on Sixth Street. That’s now been moved to the new Development Services building at 111 N. Main St. Planning and Zoning traditionally was located next door to city hall -- in the old city Fire Dept. -- but it’s now been moved to the new Development Services building. Parks and Rec was located for years in an old church building at the bend coming into Old Town, but those folks have obviously hit the jackpot with offices now located in the new Recreation Center on Sixth Street.

Going to City Hall in Cottonwood has always been a hit-or-miss bet in terms of being able to meet with the person you need to meet with or receiving the service you hope to receive. For those of you who claim that finding who you’re looking for at City Hall is a wild goose chase, well, you’re right. It’s far from perfect, but it’s worked.

Now the city is moving forward on plans to build a new city hall. It’s not the first time such talk has come up. Twenty years ago, former City Councilman Mike Gardner was leading a charge to build a new city hall away from Old Town, more centrally located in Cottonwood, where the new Recreation Center is now located.

Today, the City Council has settled on building a new city hall on the ball field next to the Cottonwood Boys and Girls Club. That’s the plan both the city staff and council believe is best. And that’s exactly what will happen unless citizens think otherwise and let the council know how they feel.

We’re not going to chide the city council for moving forward on this project without involving the public in the process. In Cottonwood, history has clearly shown that’s easier said than done. Folks in Cottonwood would prefer to complain after the fact instead of participating before the fact.

But here is what they should be asking their city council:

• Does having City Hall located in Cottonwood really best serve all of Cottonwood? Make no mistake about it, we love Old Town, but at the same time Mike Gardner’s vision in 1990 sure does make good sense today.

• If we’re going to build a new city hall, what city services are going to be housed in it? Is this not an opportunity, and the time, to centralize as many city departments as possible in one conveniently located city complex? Or, will finding the right city employee you need to help you continue to be a wild goose chase?

Good questions for the City Council to consider before building a new city hall.

Good questions for an active citizenry to ask their elected City Council.

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