The city hall, which was built in 1891 and expanded upon in 1913, has not had any structural improvements made to it since that time. In its current state, if such disasters like one from the often-discussed Cascadia Subduction Zone were to occur, the building is very vulnerable to destruction. On top of that, there is an issue of liability from the city if anyone were to be injured in it.
For the past two decades, the city has been discussing a variety of options such as building a new city hall, rebuilding the current one or reconstructing the interior of it. Last Monday, the Ashland City Council met for a study session on four options brought forth by staff.
The options involve:
- Rebuild at the current downtown City Hall location at 20 E. Main Street retaining much of the façade
- Renovate Briscoe School to include Community Development/Engineering and City Hall personnel
- Build new at Council Chambers/Courts to include Community Development/Engineering and City
Hall personnel and functions
- Seismic retrofit of existing City Hall as conceptually presented in this item
Public Works Director Paula Brown says the city is trying to find the best route that will have city hall last for the next 40 to 100 years but that is also financially feasible.
“We don’t have a lot of money. We don’t think the voters will probably approve a $12 to $18 million dollar change,” said Brown. “So if we can really make the best of it, do the improvements that are absolutely necessary and update it so that we can move and work in city hall and all [residents] can come visit and not be at risk.”
Out of the four options presented, Brown says the staff has recommended the seismic retrofitting of the current city hall which is the cheapest. It’s estimated to cost about $6 million – more than half of what the others would cost. However, the city is anticipating that cost to rise 5.5 percent each year.
“Not anything ostentatious,” said Brown. “I think the city council is aware that the community doesn’t want to spend a lot of money so let’s spend the appropriate amount of money.”
The Ashland City Council is set to reconvene next Tuesday on October 15 where it’s expected a decision will be made.