Letters Legacy project
To the citizens of Vermillion:
The City Hall Site Selection Committee has presented its report and a ranking of the final four sites to the Vermillion City Council. After working diligently since March 2004, this group of twelve citizens ranked the final four sites as follows:
1. Demolish and/or move the current city hall at 25 Center Street and build a new facility on the same site.
2. Purchase, lease or lease/purchase the Bank of the West building at 15 E. Main and remodel it for use as city hall.
3. Purchase the old National Guard Armory on the South edge of Market Street at Bloomingdale, demolish the building and construct a new city hall at that location.
4. Purchase the current Fullerton Lumber Company location at 113 W. Main, demolish the buildings and construct a new city hall on the site.
At the regular city council meeting on Aug. 1, the council accepted the report of the committee and extended thanks for the many meetings, monumental research and countless hours that this group completed to arrive at this final ranking.
The council then directed the city manager to research needed procedures and provide additional information for the Aug. 15 regular council meeting. This will involve cost estimates of what will be needed to thoroughly research each of the four sites to obtain hard costs of the actual development of each of the sites.
It may be cost prohibitive to get hard numbers of each of the sites, and if so the feeling of the council is to do a minimum of at least the top two.
The council will then have at least two clear options with accurate cost estimates to present to the public for their input over the next few months.
It is my wish that we as a community adopt this city hall plan as our legacy project for our Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) coming up in 2009. I believe we owe it to ourselves and future generations to make a significant investment like this that will potentially serve our community for the next hundred years.
We ask private firms to make investments such as this in our city to create jobs, and it is just as important that we invest in ourselves and our future.
As you may remember, in years past I personally advocated the remodeling of the current city hall building. Although I still believe that almost any building can be remodeled given enough time and money, it is my opinion now that this would not be a wise and prudent use of tax dollars.
Public buildings are held to a higher standard by building codes and rehabbing the current structure for use as city hall would cost more than it is worth, in my opinion. If we create a tasteful and functional building with state of the art technology it will still be in use many years after all of us are gone. This is the most cost effective solution over the long haul and the most responsible use of public funds.
Please be assured that public information will be available and public input will be solicited every step of the way. However, the final responsibility rests with elected officials and at some point in the future there are nine of us that are charged with making this very important decision.
I am asking for your input over the next few months, both now and later, and especially after hard numbers for the options become available. When we as elected officials are satisfied we have enough information, we will do our constitutional duty and make a decision.
It is my heartfelt desire that we band together as a united community and work together to carry out the wishes of the majority.
Mayor of Vermillion
Praise for Melby
To the editor:
Let me begin by expressing my confidence in our new mayor and city manager who both recognize the importance of citizen input in city affairs.
They represent a refreshing change from our prior city leadership that engaged in artifice and �spin� as acceptable methods of achieving their own agendas, suspicious methods that some might call �funny business.�
As a concerned citizen and former alderman, I easily recognize the important differences in approach to city governance. I believe that other citizens also recognized those differences when they chose new leaders who would bring candor and openness to city governance, thereby leading to greater confidence by citizens.
This leads me to express my disappointment in your reporting on the City Hall Advisory Committee last week and, in particular, your castigation of Neil Melby.
I encourage each member of the committee to express any concerns they may have regarding whatever recommendations are made to the city council. Every voice has a right to be heard and respected. It is only by a full hearing of every issue that the city council may receive the best informed recommendations from the committee.
This process reflects a new approach to an important decision that has previously frustrated both the council and citizenry alike. I am hopeful that the final decision will reflect a consensus that can be supported by a majority of citizens in our community, supported by a new confidence that was clearly lacking when the last proposal was easily voted down.
In comparison, I believe it was confidence in the decision-making process, as well as the merits of the recommendation, that led citizens to cast their vote in support of the important addition to the high school facility a few years ago.
Mr. Melby is a citizen volunteer who does not deserve to be maligned as he was last week. I have witnessed him work tirelessly on issues facing the city. Contrary to your aspersions, he is always prepared with the facts. He consistently conducts himself with courtesy and respect for others, even when it is not returned to him in kind.
I have witnessed him conduct himself with steadfast decorum at times of great frustration. He even expended his own personal resources successfully defending the right of citizens to petition the city council for a public vote on a controversial issue after a prior city council wrongfully denied our citizens their constitutional right to vote, an important right that I believe will not be abridged again by another council.
I want to thank Mr. Melby for his dedication to the city of Vermillion, especially after he is condemned in the Plain