ST. HELENA — The City Council is reconsidering tentative plans to rebuild City Hall on its current site and is now looking instead to the Adams Street property.
The council directed consultants to come back with cost estimates on four options involving a new City Hall, a separate council chambers that would double as community event space, and the library.
The four options are:
— A new library at the corner of Adams Street and Library Lane, new council chambers next to it, and moving City Hall staff into an expanded and renovated library building.
— A new City Hall at Adams/Library, new council chambers, and an expanded and renovated library.
— A new library at the current City Hall site, new council chambers on Adams Street, and moving City Hall staff into the current library.
— Tearing down the library and building all three new structures – City Hall, council chambers and library – on the Adams Street property.
A steering committee made up of councilmembers, staff, library representatives and residents advised the council not to rebuild the dilapidated and outdated City Hall at its current site. They cited a lack of parking for the new council chambers and questioned whether the city could do something else at the City Hall property that would help revitalize the downtown.
The committee recommended creating a civic block along Library Lane consisting of a renovated 12,700-square-foot library, an 11,500-square-foot City Hall, and a 7,000-square-foot council chambers/multipurpose room.
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Noll & Tam Architects will analyze that option and the three others chosen by the council. The consultants will return to the council this fall with cost estimates and images showing the visual massing of each option. Then the council will choose one option for further architectural and design work.
The designs only involve the portion of the Adams Street property between the library and Adams Street. The back of the 5.6-acre property could still be available for separate development. All talk of hotels was excluded from Monday’s discussion.
Jack Stuart, chairman of the Friends & Foundation board and a member of the Civic St. Helena Steering Committee that recommended the new direction, cited a recent letter to the Star arguing that the city should save the Adams Street property for the future.
“Folks, we’ve been doing this for 30 years, arguing about this parcel,” Stuart said. “This is the future.”
City Councilmember Paul Dohring agreed that it’s time to do something with the property.
“Let’s try to get on board with something,” he said. “Let’s be cheerleaders for ourselves and for our community, for our (city) employees. Let’s get something done.”
The new buildings along Library Lane could include semi-underground parking about four feet below ground level. That would be cheaper than a full-blown underground parking garage, while still limiting the amount of surface-level parking on the site.
The council also recommended shared parking arrangements with nearby parking lots – including at Bank of America and Westamerica Bank – that sit vacant during evenings and weekends.
Consultants will also estimate the cost of new parks and recreation facilities at Crane Park.