I’d like to correct the record regarding the proposed location of a new City Hall in St Helena. A few strong-willed citizens and one council member in particular have suggested no recommendations were made. This is simply not true.

The SHAPE committee clearly made its number one recommendation (option) for City Hall to be rebuilt at its current location. See section 4.1 page 23 of the SHAPE report. The vote was 8-3 in favor of this recommendation/option. Nearly 75% of committee members supported this option after much review, discussion, public input, and outreach. Two other options were included in the report but were not enthusiastically endorsed by the committee.

The staff report prepared after the June 25, 2018 joint City Council and SHAPE committee meeting states, “The City Council also discussed the options and indicated a preference to rebuild a multi-use City Hall structure onsite. Rationale included, among other things, ease of parking nearby, proximity to the Fire Department, Post Office and Rianda House, its potential to contribute to a more active downtown, and the potential to better integrate aesthetically with Lyman Park to create a destination civic space.”

The above staff report was presented at the Sept. 17, 2018 Special City Council meeting and was the basis for the meeting’s discussion. The minutes of the Sept. 17, 2018 meeting clearly provide the recommendation is City Hall (as a mixed use building) be rebuilt at the same location. Section 4.1, new business: “…It was the consensus of the City Council to proceed with immediate next steps identified in the report (the staff report referred to above) and create Council Liaisons for the following areas: Define City Hall Parcel Mix of Uses… It was the consensus of the City Council to identify City Hall as first priority, multiple stories and to evaluate mixed uses.”

So there you have it. I’m not quite sure how a few citizens and one council member have been able to send this off the rails and go against the will of St. Helena citizens, the SHAPE committee, City Council, and good fiscal sense, but they’ve worked hard. Hopefully the current City Council will bring us back to the recommendations of City Hall on the current site. The City will need this focus to review and recommend financing options.

The facts of history are important.

Mark B. Smithers

St. Helena resident and SHAPE Committee chair, 2017-2018

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