Fellow citizens,

The new council has a quandary with which we will need your help. This city council will be divided regarding what to do about how and where we will eventually improve our city government and services facilities. It is important that we begin a dialogue now with our citizens on elements of this decision. Let me say that, though there has been some turnover, this will be a great new city council, though divided already on some issues. There is nothing wrong with that; the debates will be healthy.

This decision will be extremely important for our city. There are pros and cons to be considered, all depending on where we want to build our city hall, police station, Fire/EMS station and library. There are basically two schools of thought among council members:

1. Build on property already owned and occupied by city facilities (i.e., current police, EMS/fire and public works facilities, etc.) or

2. Buy new property and prepare to develop our city government facilities there, leaving the previously city-occupied lands open for sale and development by future retail/commercial development.

The first option may appeal to some. The biggest pros are that the city already owns the property, and some believe that having city government facilities included in our old downtown could enhance the old, downtown ambiance. A problem with this option will be that the facilities built will be pretty much landlocked and unable to grow when more office space, or more parking space is needed. Another problem would be some inefficient shuffling of the existing facilities as they are rebuilt. A third problem is that the space availability for new retail business or entertainment facilities (and the parking space needed for those) will be restricted, forcing new storefronts to locate away from city center.

For what it’s worth, I prefer the second option. Building new, turn-key facilities for essential services like police, fire/EMS and administration would be much less disruptive for them. Space could also be included for some ball fields. Space for new retail and commercial businesses, and the necessary parking space, near our downtown would benefit our city. An opportunity may also open for a downtown, city owned recreational venue like an amphitheater, band box or water feature.

Much more needs to be explored; a site for a new government campus, for instance. Obviously, I am biased in favor of the second option, but there are council members in favor of the first. Please contact your favorite alderman, or each of us, and let us know what you think.

I will soon be writing my newsletter for inclusion with our water bills and much of the above will be reiterated in that letter.

Yours truly,

Mayor Larry Cooper