Thursday, February 6, 2014

City Hall Is Dying

City Hall

As Paducah’s City Hall closes in on its fiftieth birthday, it is dying.  Edward Durell Stone, the building’s renowned architect, would not be happy about the demise of his masterpiece, his rendition of the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India, also his architectural creation.

Age 50 is nowhere near old age and death.  It shouldn’t be this way, but our City Hall is not dying from some horrific event.  No, City Hall is just dying from a thousand small cuts.  These cuts were probably not malicious, but they are cuts nonetheless.

There was a time that City Hall literally seemed to float on a sea of light. All its columns, each lit at night, have grown dark or are only partially lit. The black stair railings that have guided dignitaries and everyday citizens for nearly five decades have been allowed to rust away from their moorings on the concrete steps that lead to the roofed piazza.  And that roof, it is bending low now at the ends, like a man needlessly stooped at middle age.  As you approach from the 5th Street side, the concrete piazza is broken and pockmarked--not from a catastrophe, just no one cared to keep the grand entrance grand.  And don’t forget to notice the small chains up high near the entrance doors.  I believe they are forgotten remnants for the hanging of the Christmas wreaths.  Those entrance doors from both 4th and 5th Streets have a less than pleasing “grafted on” look.  Instead of thoughtfully restoring the original doors, we made do with something less. And that is what we got, something less. At some point it was decided to “modernize” the windows with a fresh coat of grey paint.  Too bad the paint covered the aluminum that had originally been designed by Mr. Stone.  As a further insult, the surface couldn’t have been prepped correctly because the grey is flaking away.

I should stop here. This subject is dispiriting enough.  And I bear responsibility also.  As your commissioner I have not demanded the attention this building needs. It is just a sad way to treat our front door to the world.  Maybe we should try to formulate a plan to correct the slights to our seat of city government.  If not, its epitaph might read: “Some by war, some by pestilence--no, our City Hall perished due to neglect and deferred maintenance.” 



I have told you my feelings, but I need to hear from you.  So let’s have it. 

13 comments:

  1. Take the money from the mistake made by the purchase of the air building (that could only stay up 6 months at a time) and the dollars spent on the new boat ramp still waiting to be used) could have kept our City Hall looking Spic and Span.

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  2. Allan... while I am not a citizen of Paducah..I feel I should say something about your grand city hall. Yes it may need some repairs and maintenance, all of those things you spoke of can be repaired. Just don't wait too long to get started. Take the court house in metropolis for example..like your city hall..our court house was once a grand building and the tallest in the county. Now after years of little to no maintenance, the court rooms are being closed and unsafe to enter as water cascades down the walls, drips from the ceilings and pours in through the windows. Spare your still sound building from the gloom and doom that is our court house and rally the troops. It can and should be done. Thanks for listening..I wish our city and county leaders were more concerned and vocal. Have a great day!

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  3. I am not a citizen of the city. I live in the county. I think you personally are a good man with a live and high regard for the city. I think that is why you sought your post as commissioner. I think it's noble wanting to restore city hall. But don't fall into the trap that Paducah city officials have fallen into again and again. Do not over do it! Live within your means! The riverfront development was a lofty plan. The federal government gave you money towards that plan. Now that you realize it is to expensive, you need to scale it back. That might be difficult as the feds have you money for that lofty plan not for a park or some other attainable goal. Take a lesson from the property in Redland that was to be some world class soccer complex. It was over priced to begin. (Bought for$150,000 in the mid 1990's and sold to the city for$900,000). Then with it being in a flood zone and development costs being cost prohibitive, that plan was scrapped. Save the city's money! You'll need it for floodwall improvements required to keep flood insurance and for adding city infrastructure, streets, sewers,etc. I'm a big fan of how nice the greenway trail is but$400,000 for a tunnel under 8th street? I'm thinking a "look both ways" sign might have been in order. I like some of the things the city does. The wifi hotspots are smart, even the one in Oaklawn cemetery. Maybe advertise them more. Not a lot of people are aware of their locations. Good luck restoring city hall, I think you honestly have the best interest of the city and its citizens at heart.

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  4. Perhaps we could start issuing fines to those who own buildings downtown who wont' renovate or make repairs such that they could be rented out to businesses. Those properties are degrading fast and an eyesore on Paducah's downtown area...and a danger to pedestrians.. all because these property owners can extort tax credits for keeping them vacant??!? These fines and penalties could be used toward repair and maintenance for City Hall.

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  5. Perhaps we could sell the police departments MRAP to help partially finance the restoration of buildings in paducah. The Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicle. As much as I like toys, I cannot discern why Paducah needs (for all intent and pruposes) a tank. New they are $412,000, why not sell it for $350,000 and put that money towards things that we actually need?

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  6. building maintenance is a top priority budget item

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  7. All I can say is don't let the City Engineer anywhere the designing or planning of a fix or building of City Hall! Which leads me to this question......I guess what I would like to know is after Rick Murphy screwed up the Riverfront Project why are letting home screw up he new boat ramp?! I hear it cost $120,000.00 and he had a boat dock company build it to his specifications and after they told him it wouldn't work he had it done his way! After delivery they washed their hands of it since they knew it wouldn't work and now that it doesn't more money or an alternate way of raising and lowering it will have to be used. I heard by truck! Now this may all be rumor, but I don't understand why the city officials keep putting up with someone who knows very little about his job and is never wrong and can not be told anything or corrected...... More wasted tax dollars!

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  8. O.K. Anon,
    I think it is time for coffee. I can recommend a place. Call, and lets talk.
    Allan

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  9. Allan, which anon are you talking to? If it is about the boat ramp dock, I would love to I have a connection to a city worker and would not want to get them in trouble since Murphy does not like or care for most of the worker bee types especially the ones under his direct thumb! All it would take to find out if this is true would probably be to talk to the dock builder and the public works maintenance people trying to fix his mistake....which is surely costing more money...also if you can find someone who is not afraid of him! However I won't totally discount a call and coffee with you if this is not just a rumor or rumbling of malcontents! Later!

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  10. Oh forgot, I was told the dock is siitng in the PW maintenance building!

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  11. I've learned an easy way to shock an architect is to tell them your hometown's city hall was designed by Edward Durell Stone, and they're thinking of replacing rather than repairing it.

    This isn't just any old building - it's one of Paducah's most significant, and it's worth the cost to repair it.

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  12. Any building, hwy or bridge made of our modern day concrete has a short life span. Edward Stone was a proponent of "Modern Architecture" in the U.S. just as was Frank Lloyd Wright. Few realize that nearly half of Wright's buildings are gone due to his use of reinforced concrete. Just look at our modern day infrastructure that's falling apart. And nearly all of it is made of concrete that has an avg. lifespan of 50 to 75 yrs. What is happening to the city hall was inevitable. Patching it up or reinforcing reinforced concrete will be an exercise in futility. Within less than a generation the problem will return.

    As an aside, it's worth noting that the concrete structures built by the Romans almost 2300 yrs ago are still standing. Roman bridges built for chariots are now being used by autos and trucks. Roman engineers and architects obviously knew something that our modern day engineers and architects don't.

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