10 Reasons to Move Forward with the Current City Hall/Parking Plans

It is time for this city council to move forward with this project and break ground this summer.

By John Kramer

1) The concept of this project was approved and adopted by the city council in the 1987 Urban Renewal Plan and the 2006 Master Plan.

2) The current and a great City Hall site was chosen by our founding community forefathers almost 100 years ago in 1917. There is no good reason to move City Hall. As the saying goes, “If it is not broken, don’t try to fix it”.

3) The current City Hall site is paid for. If you moved City Hall, the city might have to spend $1 million – $2 million more on a new land purchase somewhere else. That makes no sense.

4) The current site is still the best site because of its large, flexible size. And equally important, it’s central convenient location to serve both the central business district, and the growing Railway District.

5) The current City Hall is almost 100 years old. It is time to replace it with a new better constructed building that could last another 100 years or more.

6) This project has been thoughtfully and carefully planned out over many years with dozens and dozens of public meetings, council workshops, city council meetings and several community open houses. And hundreds of community members and many staff members have spent thousands of hours participating in this thorough public process. It would be totally unfair and irresponsible to ignore and dismiss this highly public process.

7) Inadequate downtown parking has been a priority issue for quite some time; and the problem is likely to get worse. There is no better central, convenient location to address this problem. A surface lot with City Hall would only provide about 50 new parking spaces. That does not solve the long-term needs. The proposed parking facility will provide over 220 parking spaces. That will be much more helpful both now and into the future.

8) A successful, fun, vibrant community needs a successful, fun, vibrant downtown core. We have seen many communities across Montana and America let their downtowns deteriorate; and then eventually much of the community will also deteriorate. We should not and must not make that mistake here.

9) This project is being funded primarily with the Tax Increment Fund (TIF), and a Downtown Special Improvement District. Contrary to what some are inaccurately saying, our residential property taxes should not go up. But if we delay, the cost of this project could go up significantly due to construction inflation.

10) TIF funds by state law are intended for projects that will stimulate economic development and thus produce new tax revenues for the community. This project does exactly that. We are already seeing new multi-million dollar buildings going up because of this and previous TIF projects. And more new projects, additions and remodels are in the planning stages waiting for more parking and City Hall to be built.

In summary, it is time for this city council to move forward with this project and break ground this summer.

John Kramer

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