The Board of Aldermen met for a workshop session on Monday, August 31st to review options to address City Hall and police station crowding, as well as recreation needs identified as priorities by residents
The June 2020 bond issue defeated by voters attempted to address all issues identified by the City’s master plan, creating a civic complex at a price tag of more than $38 million. With its defeat, elected officials must now come up with a plan to address crowding issues, recreation needs of the community, and determine the future of the Sni-A-Bar Farms site acquired for the purposes of a civic complex.
Representatives from Sapp Design Architects, Helix Architecture + Design, and McCown Gordon provided board members with a number of options for the City to address crowding and facility issues at City Hall, the police department along with options to provide improved recreation space.
Options discussed included a “band-aid approach”, priced at approximately $4 million, to do basic repairs and renovations to existing spaces, to a phased building of a new City Hall at the Sni-A-Bar Farms site with the option of adding additional facilities at the site in future years.
Members discussed whether voters defeated the proposed bond issue due to the cost, the timing of the vote during a pandemic and related shutdowns, or concerns over the scope and location of the project itself.
“As long as we’re stuck on that, I think we need to get some idea of what the voters meant by the vote. That’s where a survey comes into place,” Mayor Chuck Johnston said.
City Administrator Ken Murphy mentioned the City’s intent to develop a survey of registered voters to better gauge their interests and comfort level with various plans related to development or redevelopment of current City facilities.
“We have to have the facts to make an informed decision. Don’t just put it all on us (the Board) because they voted it down and they don’t want it,” Johnston said.
“But at the same time, it is our job to make sure we are looking toward the future. The voters are looking at right now, so we have to make sure they understand the options,” Headley said.
Board members also continued to debate the merits of keeping current city facilities on Main Street or moving to the Sni-A-Bar Farms site. Johnston maintained his opinion that the current location of City Hall, the police department, and the community center is best suited in its current site, with renovations or new construction added to current buildings to address crowding and facility needs.
Alderman Stratton mentioned the potential commercial viability of the current location on Main Street versus the limited commercial use of the Sni-A-Bar Farms area in comparison. Members discussed the possibility of leaving some City services on the current site, but opening up space for commercial development.
Alderman Knox and Alderman Headley both expressed they would not want the City to lose the opportunity to use the Sni-A-Bar property to address future needs.
“If we throw that property out the door and sell it, we’re losing a huge opportunity. If we put something out there to solve short term problems here, and we still own the property, the Board sitting her 20 years from now will still have a place to possibly move the rest (city facilities) down there,” Headley said.
There was some consensus among the Board that a range of $15-20 million might be more palatable to voters.
Board members will continue to review options presented for future discussion.
The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be Monday, September 14th at 7:00pm in the Council Chambers at Grain Valley City Hall.