At its May 28 meeting, the City Council again brought before the public the potential sale of all or a portion of the Adams Street property. Clearly the citizens were not prepared to support steps that would lead to development of this important city asset without more public input. But this input must be informed with accurate information provided by the Council about which projects and services would be included, what options would be available, the effect on our public life and what each option would cost.
It’s disappointing that we have now put decisions off by several months. This leaves our valued city employees occupying seriously deficient facilities, several other buildings and infrastructure in dire need of repair including our library, many “make or buy” decisions on city services, and questions of various funding mechanisms.
The SHAPE Committee did a great deal of work to consider the city’s various physical assets. With the help of consultants, we were able to understand the uses of each property, the extent of deferred maintenance, the price tags to bring them up to a standard in keeping with our community expectations, and various options for their future use. However, many other elements of our city infrastructure are also in need of rehabilitation, and there is interest among various citizen groups for such amenities as space for the historical society, additional recreation facilities and spaces for enhanced cultural programs and public gatherings. And there has been discussion of “shared services” for some city services. We all need to weigh in to help our Council make the best decisions.
I do have a suggestion for our City Council: offer everyone the opportunity to participate. Schedule a series of facilitated discussions that provide:
1. Data on our specific facility and infrastructure needs;
2. Potential expenses involved and budget consideration;
3. Future revenue sources and projection estimates;
4. Community wish lists and interests;
5. Examination of the benefits and costs of the various choices;
6. Financing opportunities and how costs could be shared; and
7. Identification of areas of community support.
This presentation should include drawings and descriptions of the various possibilities to focus discussion. If the City Council members attend these meetings, they will have the community input they need, coupled with their own careful analysis of the issues, to make final decisions on what they each believe is in the best interests of St. Helena.
I respect the difficult choices they have before them and I look forward to participating fully in whatever process is ultimately employ to gain public support.