OUR VIEW: Lots to gain from moving city officesAs residents of this city consider what to do with the Corn Palace, another pressing concern has arisen: What to do with City Hall?
As residents of this city consider what to do with the Corn Palace, another pressing concern has arisen:
What to do with City Hall?
Members of the City Council on Monday said the building — located on Main Street and attached to the north end of the Corn Palace — has outlived its purpose.
The decaying basement and cracked pipes that were the topic of much discussion back in 2007 have apparently been fixed, but the building is balky, outdated and doesn’t provide much opportunity for expansion.
At their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, council members asked Mayor Lou Sebert to name a six-person panel tasked with examining a potential relocation. We see this as a step in the right direction, although we must say we are hesitant to endorse the formation of another council-appointed task force.
We remember the 29-months-long process to get a proposal out of an events center task force appointed in 2005 by then-Mayor Alice Claggett. After the task force met mostly in private those months and years, the City Council still had to conduct a last-minute scramble to determine what kind of building and which location would be proposed to voters. And, after all that work by volunteer task force members and all those months of waiting, the long-awaited proposal was rejected by a whopping 69 percent of local voters.
The events center debacle showed that a task force, if not properly led and guided and held publicly accountable by elected officials, can end badly. We hope deadlines, protocols and the need for public updates are clearly defined by the council as this new City Hall task force begins its work.
What will it cost to move the city’s main offices? Figures aren’t yet on the table, but we know it won’t be cheap.
Interestingly, this all fits together with plans to renovate the Corn Palace. Members of the Chamber of Commerce’s Corn Palace renovation committee have been making the rounds lately, asking for advice on what to do with the aging structure. We feel something needs to be done about the Palace, and are anxious to hear the committee’s findings. We also are pleased by the committee’s appreciation for openness and public input.
We realize that the space that City Hall now occupies is prime real estate that could be put to good use for a Palace renovation. City Hall sits just to the north of the Palace proper; some — including The Daily Republic — feel it would be wise to somehow employ that space for future Corn Palace use.
Renovating the Palace and moving City Hall at the same seems like a logical process. If that happens, Mitchell residents may balk at the combined price tag.
It’s important to remember that the City Hall problem is not new, and will cost money no matter what direction planners go. Whether city offices are moved to a new location or renovated where they stand, something should be done, and it’s going to come with a cost.
Meanwhile, any proposed renovation to the Corn Palace could require the space that City Hall now occupies.
It makes sense to begin the process of moving City Hall.