It has been a week and I have a few more thoughts to share on City Hall. I must start with the caveat that I am neither an architect nor an engineer. But I am someone who has been chosen (at least for now) by the people of Paducah to look out for both the city’s finances and its character. And I’m starting to think that tearing down the old City Hall building and starting fresh is not necessarily the way to go.
If we instead chose to renovate the old building, we would have the unique opportunity to make some changes that would put parts of it to better use. Take for example the way we could use the spaces in the building that are underutilized now. What about moving the staff of Parks and Recreation to the basement offices and closing the old Parks and Rec building? Yes, the Senior Citizen Program would have to find a new home, maybe (as a first thought) the Convention Center. The old building is terrifically inefficient, energy-wise. Could it be sold and have those savings redeployed in the City Hall? Could E911 and IT Department be moved into City Hall and those buildings disposed of? That could also create some savings.
That’s just one thought, but there really are lots of changes we could make to the City Hall we have now that would allow it to be just as useful as new building.
Another thought of mine is the aesthetics of the building. I’ve talked to people who love how it looks and people who hate how it looks, and we’ll never get a consensus there. But know this—there will never be another built like it. It was intended to make a statement about Paducah, and it has been part of the fabric of Paducah’s history since 1964. Shiny new things sound exciting, but that’s because nobody wants to think about the fact that when you bulldoze a piece of history you can never get it back.
I’m especially concerned now because of the RFQ (“Request For Qualifications,” which is where we advertise for hiring an architect) that the City has had out, and the accompanying timeline. This timeline calls for us to have an architect chosen in only slightly more than six weeks, and the design for the new building completed in January of next year. Are we that sure that we want a new City Hall in the first place? Where’s a comparison of the costs of building vs. renovating? We still do not know. Don’t we need a better—smarter—idea of what we need to do before we rush off and choose who we want to do it?
I know I am an impatient person who is going to slow down on this because this is an opportunity to really get it right for all of us. So, I’m still thinking about all this and you should too. Let me know what you think.