Wednesday, August 5, 2009
A prolonged era of financial stagnation or adversity resulted in unavoidable neglect and decay of Navasota’s infrastructure. This was a perfect living illustration of the age old axiom; “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Navasota City Hall was evidently last on the priority list during each past administration, and today is not only too small, but has become a Pandora’s Box and a challenge to our very integrity. Here is the dilemma; Dare the City of Navasota enforce its building code and future condemnations, when in fact, our City Hall violates many State and Federal ADA code requirements for public buildings, and is an embarrassing self contradiction, which demands immediate attention from City Council?
Recent studies have confirmed our worst fears; City Hall was dangerously constructed, severely neglected, is now fatally decayed, and not a good candidate for restoration. And thus unworthy of your tax dollars, and hopelessly inadequate to accommodate future growth. Estimates for necessary restoration and remodeling range between $2 and $3 million. These critical concerns about code compliance, structural integrity, and public image of our city hall lead to one conclusion: It is time for a change. It is time for Navasota to get out of the box.
If present condition of the City Hall is as bad as numerous consultants propose, then it would be wrong to convey this property in such a deplorable state. In fact, an honest estimate of value of the property by an outside appraiser might yield a value of the lot minus the demolition costs. At best the property would only bring a modest sum, and might only be of interest to a party that did not care about its troubles or have the resources to resolve them. Rather than cut our losses and abandon the property, I propose that we consider Council's plans, for a more noble use for it:
1) Since TxDot could require parallel parking on Washington Ave. as in most towns, at any time, the property should be converted into badly needed, centrally located downtown parking space.
2) The City should move into a building more worthy of your tax dollars, as well as our present and future needs. This might mean the construction of a new city hall, if one cannot be found.
One final thought: A new city hall would bring about the long needed consolidation of many of the various city departments. This would set off a wonderful series of improvements that would serve to benefit the citizens of Navasota, including :
A) Greatly increase citizen convenience.
B) Improve city government service and efficiency.
C) Improve the town’s image and our quality of life.
D) Provide for badly needed retail parking to revive our historic downtown district.
All of this may take five years or longer, but even so, let’s plan to get out of the box!