In response to Mary Koberstein's guest commentary ("No decision on Adams is unhealthy for the city," Aug. 8), I felt compelled to set the misrepresentation straight. I was part of two earlier public planning processes and RFP's for the Adams Street property. These did not end in City Councils who were unwilling to take action. They resulted in no RFPs that met the framework that the city wanted. No developer was willing to develop the property because they couldn't make enough money, or so they said. The earlier incarnations had market rate and affordable housing or mixed use with room set aside for Library expansion and a Community Center.
The reason nothing happened was not a lack of process or will on the part of the community or City Council. The ideas were tabled because they were not economically viable "for developers" and the City had no money to develop the property in the way that the community had envisioned. Let's be clear the property is an investment for the future and does not have to be developed immediately. It will become more and more valuable over time, not less. And the City does not have to sell off their most treasured piece of real estate in order to be viable. The City Council already has moved in the right direction getting their financial house in order.
Now comes this new wave of we are broke, but we must have a new $8 million City Hall and a 50-room hotel in order to make ends meet? What is wrong with this picture? It ignores the will of the people that have consistently over many years with the help of many outside (and expensive consultants) identified the Adams Street property as a treasure and the best place for community services to be relocated, i.e., City Hall, Expanded Library, Historical Society etc.
And yet now the issue is being framed in such a way as to seem as if the property is a millstone around the City's neck, which it is not (it’s nearly paid off).
There are many parcels that have proposed hotels (usually with city opposition) over the years and those range from the vacant Mills Lane property to behind Nimbus Arts and the Friedrich property. I personally think smaller venues with less impact on water and traffic are better than larger ones -- and frankly I don't think locals need fight traffic from a 50-unit hotel while going to Safeway, Smiths, doctor’s offices and the library. These impacts are seldom shown for their real cumulative impacts.
The City Council needs to decide whether the town is to serve the people who can still afford to live here or sell out to big developers and lose its soul. We can get our financial house in order and be true to our small agrarian roots by living within our means and by treasuring what we have.
I remember a decade or so ago when Calistoga needed funds to improve their City Hall. They had a large band-aid across the building. Want to raise money for a new City Hall? Start a capital campaign and consider selling the existing City Hall and leasing the Carnegie Building or the parochial school in the meantime.
Finally selling our souls so "EIFD can create millions in bonding capacity to fund a broad range of city needs ... without raising taxes." Sounds like a deal with the devil. You don't get something for nothing. There is no guarantee that retail is coming back, that hotels will be filled.
This is a short-sighted fix based on the past and not the future. Water, open space and our historic downtown are our most valuable assets. I am less interested in bringing "something to fruition" than I am with protecting what we have and moving forward in a measured, sensible way.