Here's an idea that could satisfy multiple interests — local residents, city employees, and visitors alike. The Adams Street property could include a family YMCA, city offices, and a hotel.
The family YMCA concept would appeal to people of all ages. It would include a fitness center, a swimming pool, children play rooms and senior social rooms. The Y would be available for daily or membership usage. St. Helena residents could be offered discounted rates. It would also be available to guests of the hotel and others.
There are many bed-and-breakfast businesses and hotels in the St. Helena area that would like to have a place to offer their guests access to a fitness center or swimming pool. For St. Helena residents it would offer a place to work out or swim that is affordable compared to many of the other facilities in St. Helena. Plus, it would be a place where their children can learn to swim and interact with other children. It would also create employment for people to operate the facilities and provide instructions in fitness, yoga, swimming, etc.
The Y would develop enough income to sustain itself, while offering a fun and affordable environment to both local residents, nearby residents (such as from Calistoga or Yountville) and tourists. It also would help boost spending in restaurant and shop businesses in St. Helena.
The Adams Street property could also be the new home for City Hall and the Police Department. In the interim, the employees could be moved to a temporary location — such as the Carnegie Building. The current City Hall could be sold to developers for office or hotel construction. The sale would help the St. Helena economy. Ultimately, the city employees would then have a modern, desirable work space.
The hotel developers would have to decide what they want from a hotel. In my view, there is a need for a mid-price hotel, not a luxury one. There are too many luxury ones and not enough mid-range ones in this area. It also needs to be environmentally sustainable — about 50 units maximum.
My idea is that we strike a balance between taking care of our local community, while also creating income to satisfy our fiscal needs. Issues about water, parking, traffic, noise and environment need to be addressed with any development plans. Nevertheless, this is an idea that I think can work.