Council stays course on city hall relocation

After recognizing Alan Gill of the Parks & Recreation Department for the placement of swings at Owen-Davis Park, Land Planning & Development Chair Bobby Gupton recapped the history of the sale of the current Municipal Building in the following prepared speech:

“This initiative was started with the City Council of 2003-2005, worked on by the Council of 2005-2007 and hopefully will be completed in 2008.

“I am the chairman of the committee responsible for this project, the Land Planning Committee. It is my firm belief that we the committee (Mr. Davis, Mr. Daeke and myself) have acted professionally and responsible in the performance of our duties. We have brought back all decisions to the full council beginning with the selection of a realtor, sale price, and ongoing negotiations to keep the council informed and for their approval. All committee meetings have been open and in most cases attended by the press and HiH. There has never been an attempt to exclude anyone from the meetings, especially the Council Members. However, few Council members have elected to attend the meetings.

“This process has been going on for approximately three years. It has been common knowledge during this period that once the Municipal Building was sold that an architect would be engaged to oversee the renovation at the current operations center. The final sale of the Municipal Building was authorized by the full City Council for the full asking price of $775,000.

“[Former City Manager Jerry] Moss had indicated to the Council that an architect should be selected ASAP so as to move as expeditiously as possible once the sale was final and the 10 day upset bid process was over. Over the past months Mr. Moss and Mr. Frazier have been interviewing interested architects, and as was discussed at the last council meeting they have settled on HagerSmith Designs.

“The Land Planning Committee met on 11/12/07 and the consensus of the committee, (Mr. Daeke and Mr. Gupton) was to support their choice (Moss and Frazier) and recommend to the full Council that Mr. Frazier be authorized to employ HagerSmith after the 10 day upset bid was completed.

“Considerable time by myself and the Committee have been spent on this project so it is a complete surprise that at this late date, and just as the final piece of the puzzle is about to be put into place that anyone would suggest a committee be appointed to approve the project and hold it for review of the new council. The current City Council has brought this project to a conclusion within the allowed parameters, and should be congratulated rather than questioned. To wait for the approval of a new council is unnecessary and an insult to those that have been involved.”

After reading the text, Gupton moved that the architectural firm HagerSmith be retained by the city for $57,500 to provide services for the renovation of the current City Operations Center, a motion that was seconded by Council member Lynn Harper.

According to City Engineer Frank Frazier, the architect will go through each phase of the of the design process.

Council member Ranger Wilkerson asked if City Hall was, in fact, sold.

In response, City Attorney Billy Strickland replied that the process had been narrowed down to buyer and seller after the expiration of the upset bid period at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2007. He indicated that the closing was to take place within 25 days. He also noted that the buyer had no “out” provision in the contract, although the city does.

It was noted that the situation shared characteristics with the sale of the old City Garage, a deal that was not completed. Strickland stated that in that situation, the buyer was not solvent. He noted that in the case of the sale of the Municipal Building, the buyer is solvent.

Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert characterized the hiring of an architect consistent with previous Council actions.

Strickland said that he could put provisional language into the contract with the architects so that the city could back out of the contract for less than the full amount.

A motion to approve a contract with HagerSmith with provisional language, with the City Manager authorized to sign the contract, passed without opposition.