Restoration of Troutdale City Hall takes one step forward
After almost nine years of discussions, meetings and a general uncertainty of what to do with Troutdale's abandoned City Hall, city councilors directed staff to draft a bond measure that, if approved, would fund a renovation of the building.
Mayor Casey Ryan came to the council's meeting on Tuesday, April 9, determined to have councilors make an initial decision about the restoration efforts.
"We're not kicking this down the road any longer," Ryan said.
Councilors voted 6-1 in favor of returning the building at the corner of East Historic Columbia River Highway and Southeast Kibling Street to an office work space and City Council chambers.
When adjusted for future inflation, with plans of starting construction in 2021, the project is estimated to cost approximately $6.35 million, according architectural firm FFA.
Total includes $1.25 million to construct a new parking lot, which will be needed if staff were to move back into City Hall, said Troutdale City Manager Ray Young, because as staff works out of the building more parking spaces will be required.
Randy Lauer said the vote marks a starting point. Issues such as including funding for the parking lot in the bond, or pursuing other funding sources for parking, should still be discussed as the city moves forward with crafting a bond.
Mayor Ryan agreed with that sentiment.
"We can put a citizens committee together," Ryan said. "There are all these things that can happen. All this stuff can happen once we agree to keep it as City Hall."
Passing a bond measure is necessary because the city lacks the finances needed to fund any restoration project, said Ray Young, Troutdale city manager.
Troutdale employees moved out of the historic City Hall in 2011, when the structure began failing because of overstressed rafters and roof beams.
The two other options councilors could have selected both restored the facility to its historic configuration by removing two additions that were added in 1977 and 1989. Both those options included only limited staff space.
The option councilors tentatively approved includes space for 23 staff desks.
Councilor David Ripma said returning city staff to City Hall was the best way get approval for a bond measure because they can sell it as a way to stop renting office space. Troutdale leases office space in storefronts downtown on the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Councilor Jamie Kranz, who was the only councilor to vote against the option approved, said it would be tougher to get any bond approved for any option with a higher price tag.
Councilor Nick Moon noted any option could be a tough sell because when he's talked to citizens about restoring the structure, they don't even know where it is.
Members of the Troutdale Historical Society attended the meeting, and many spoke in favor of any restoration efforts. They noted some funding may be available for if the city can get the building designated as a historic site.
Troutdale historian Sharon Nesbit spoke during public comments in support of fixing the historic City Hall.
"I'm in favor of saving this building one way or another, but by putting a couple offices in there is a way of extending our downtown," Nesbit said. "The reason no one knows where it is, is because you abandoned it eight years ago."
A brief history of City Hall
Troutdale's City Hall was constructed in the early 1920s. The upstairs was an open public space, and a dance hall. The downstairs served as the offices for city of Troutdale employees.
During the next 50 years, as city staff increased, the building became more crowded.
In 1977, an addition was added to the building on the south/southwest end. In 1989, another addition was added to the east side for more City Hall office space.
In 2011, Troutdale vacated the building due to structural issues that made it unsafe for staff.
Over the intervening years various proposals to remedy the problem, reuse the building, and build a new City Hall were discussed, but nothing materialized.
In April of 2014 the City Council passed a resolution setting out a timeline to study next steps.
In 2017, the city hired architectural firm FFA to evaluate the building and come up with various reconstruction possibilities and budgets. On March 6, 2018 the Council had a work session and FFA presented their findings.
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