The city of St. Helena and Napa Valley College will not engage in further talks regarding a potential lease of part of the college’s Upper Valley Campus.
The city and the college issued a joint press release Jan. 15 announcing that initial discussions will not move forward.
“The City determined that a move to the Upper Valley Campus did not meet the City’s needs unless Napa Valley College was willing to lease the campus for at least three or four years with short term extension options to allow the City to remain at the campus until the new City Hall is ready to be occupied,” the statement said.
“While willing to consider a short-term lease to mitigate St. Helena’s current situation, Napa Valley College felt a multi-year agreement would not support its current efforts and future planning.”
City officials and NVC President Ron Kraft had discussed the possibility of the city leasing part of the St. Helena campus to use as a temporary City Hall. The previous City Hall on Main Street sustained smoke damage on Dec. 18, and the city has been looking for an alternative base of operations pending the construction of a permanent City Hall.
At Kraft’s invitation, city officials toured the Upper Valley Campus on Dec. 27. On Jan. 6 city councilmembers said they wanted to negotiate a move to the campus instead of spending more money to fix the old City Hall, which is widely seen as outdated and unsuitable.
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On Jan. 7 Kraft said he would wait for authorization from the Napa Valley College Board of Trustees before engaging in formal negotiations with the city.
He said the Napa Valley Cooking School is on hiatus due to lack of enrollment, but the other spring classes scheduled for the Upper Valley Campus would go ahead as scheduled. He also said only part of the campus would be available to the city for a potential lease.
The idea drew criticism from some people affiliated with the college, including Diane Carey Woodruff, who was college president when the campus was built.
“While I am very sympathetic to the plight of the City of St. Helena and their needs because of the HVAC damage they recently experienced, I don’t want any decision by the college to undercut Napa Valley College’s primary educational mission,” Woodruff wrote in a letter to the Star and the Napa Valley Register.
With the old City Hall still uninhabitable, the finance, planning and public works departments are in the former CDF building at 1572 Railroad Ave. The city manager and city clerk are operating out of the firehouse at 1500 Main St. The St. Helena Police Department is still in its usual space next to the old City Hall.