Municipal Building

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By Ralph Damiani

The Municipal Building issue has been controversial since the day it was announced that there were structural problems with it.

Today, that building is gone but the matter of the facility remains a bone of contention for many folks.

Now the council has approved a plan to move completely away from the Ashley Pond site, a location that up until this week, most residents seemed to favor. Is this a good move?

That is a hard question and one we hope the county and council answers better than they have. At the meeting approving the site, Councilor Robert Gibson raised some good points.

He said that the bid did not meet the requirements of the RFP. If that is true, then there are some serious issues with proceeding. We did not see a good answer to that.

Then he asked if this was a change in philosophy for the county. We are spending millions of dollars to move off prime land, saying the county should not use such land when it is needed for development.

But, as Gibson asked, is this project doing exactly that? Again, there should be a better answer.

Finally he asked about traffic. The answer to this seemed rather flippant to us.

If we thought that the county’s whole idea in moving the Municipal Building was to help downtown, this really does nothing to help Central Avenue.

There are some good points to the proposal, to be sure.

The plan works with local businesses to develop the area. While we think the county’s numbers for increased revenues are far-fetched, there will be some additional revenues.

And that is good. And there will probably be more jobs, and that is good.

We do think the county can explain many of the questions raised and we hope they do a better job of that than they have to this point.

This could be a boost to the economy and area, or it could turn into another skate park. We do not need that. We need some solid development and this could be just that. We agree it is an idea worth exploring and a proposal worth pursuing.

We urge the county to proceed with all deliberate speed and get – and listen to all – public comment.