Sat, May 25

Editorial: At long last, some real progress toward a new City Hall

Since the 1970s, Cottonwood has done business from 827 N. Main St.

That's the address for Cottonwood City Hall, but it's only one of many locations throughout the city from which municipal business takes place.

More than 25 years ago, then City Manager Chuck Sweet suggested the city look ahead for land, and a plan, to build a new City Hall.

Sweet found a colleague in former Cottonwood City Councilman Mike Gardner, who touted city-owned land along 6th Street as the ideal spot for a centrally located city hall. That's the same area where today we have a library, recreation center, police and fire departments.

And, when she stepped down from the Cottonwood City Council in May 2005, former Council Member Joan Cerny urged the city to build a new city hall.

This week, we saw the most visible signs of progress toward accomplishing this long-discussed goal when the City Council agreed to a location for a new city hall.

The council agreed Tuesday to begin the process to swap four Old Town city properties for 9.6 acres of land just across the street from Hog Wild Barbecue, on which the historic Strahan House once sat.

The deal still needs to be finalized, and then there are all the details to be ironed out on when to build and how to pay for it. Those will certainly be major hurdles, but you got the sense Tuesday night that at long last something is going to happen. There is a consensus. There is a resolve.

As always is the case, there will be the critics who say Cottonwood taxpayers cannot afford such a luxury. They will call the city council a bunch of spendthrifts.

In reality, though, the city has held off on doing this for far too many years. If anything, the council has been guilty of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. While biting the bullet on the big-ticket City Hall, Cottonwood has kept its ship afloat by piece-mealing its services out among 13 different properties in the community.

Cottonwood's present City Hall is hardly representative of a centralized administrative center for city government and that is hardly convenient for the public. When someone goes to City Hall to take care of city business, it's just lousy customer service when they're told they can't be helped. They have go elsewhere. And when elsewhere involves 13 different city properties, are the folks at City Hall even sure themselves where to properly direct people?

Cottonwood City Hall needs to be a one-stop shop. Now that a decision on a location has been made, it's time to make it happen.