Editor’s Note: The following was sent to the St. Helena City Council.
At the City Council meeting of Nov. 12, it was stated that if we had more to say than the time allotted, we could write to you to express our thoughts further. I would like to take advantage of that offer to discuss further another option which was briefly touched on, but which I feel deserves further study. Implementing this option will satisfy the immediate and long-term needs of the City of St Helena while saving the taxpayers about $10 to $15 million.
For background, let me state that while I do not live within the city limits of St. Helena, I have operated an architectural practice on Railroad Avenue for about 40 years. In fact, I was one of the architects who designed the Dr. George and Elsie Wood Public Library. And subsequently was the architect who designed the enlargement of the children’s wing and the wine library space. I have been involved in numerous civic and public building projects including the Carnegie Library, the Catholic Church renovation and some projects for the St. Helena Unified School District. I consequently have a personal bias toward protecting the current public library.
Option 5 would be the following;
• Leave the library alone. Do not enlarge it or remodel it. Repair and maintain it. Budget $3 million.
• Demolish City Hall and rebuild a two-story building housing the City Hall and Parks and Recreation offices. There is no need for parks and rec to actually be in a park! City Hall and Parks and Recreation can share conference rooms, and classrooms. Budget $20 million.
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• Don’t build the standalone $8.5 million “multi-purpose” room with the commercial kitchen, etc. City Council chamber would be part of the two-story City Hall building.
• Don’t build the standalone $7.5 million Parks and Recreation building. House this vital function in the new, downtown, civic center, City Hall.
The budget numbers cited are borrowed from the Master Plan comparison matrix presented at the Nov. 11 meeting, and are very rough adjustments based on combining City Hall with Parks and Rec. They could and should be vetted by your very able consultants. However, you can easily see that by not overbuilding we can achieve some serious savings on the order of $10 to $15 million.
I would be happy to discuss these ideas further with you all or a committee formed to take public input on this very important decision that you are undertaking.
Thomas Faherty, architect