August 20, 2007

Montrose scraps its plans

Public outcry prompts council to stop plans to build new city hall

By Lynda Jensen

Plans were scrapped last Monday by the Montrose City Council for a new city hall building, following a stream of unhappy public feedback about the project.

The decision took place after about 60 vocal residents turned out Aug. 22 to discuss plans by the City of Montrose to build a new city hall building at an open house hosted by the city.

Several took issue with the city over a variety of the plan’s aspects, including the size and cost of the project, which was perceived as extravagant.

Residents were also unhappy about the possible lack of a vote over the project, but Council Member Sharon Knodel said that this hadn’t been decided at the Aug. 22 meeting.

During the meeting, feedback was given as follows:

• that an 18,000-square foot building is considered unnecessary for city staff the size of Montrose (there are five to six employees who will work in the new building, if built).

The existing building is 3,262 square feet, but the city has been forced to rent the community center for meetings because the previous chamber space is too small. The old council chamber was converted into office space and a conference room.

In addition, there have been issues with mold and indoor air quality at the old building.

• according to the crowd, the cost of the project, estimated at $2.5 million, is not supportable in light of the economic downturn.

• Residents also did not care for the makeup of the original committee, which was formed when there was a lack of response in 2005.

The committee is composed of Fire Chief Mike Marketon, Mayor Charlie Nelson, City Administrator Barb Swanson, and Deputy Clerk Wendy Manson.

It was noted that the latter two lived out of town and didn’t pay taxes toward the project.

What next?

Should the City of Montrose rent out a temporary building? Go to the Montrose blog at www.hjblogs.com/montrose.

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