City Hall Bond: Kramer is a “No” vote. Here’s why!

Ashland “Deferred Maintenance” Bond on the May Ballot

George Kramer, Nextdoor

Last Tuesday the Ashland City Council voted 6-0 to revise its May Deferred Maintenance Bond to specify that $7.2 million dollars of the request would be used to restore and rehabilitate the existing city hall, taking demolition and new construction off the table.

They also directed ORW, the architects that have been working on this project for almost 3-years, to re-evaluate the project and re-assess costs for rehabilitation and authorized $50,000 for that process. ORW hired a Portland architect, Peter Meijer, with restoration experience to assist them in that endeavor. This is progress.

The City didn’t listen to the public, but they finally understood, through the heroic work of the Ashland Historic Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office, that demolishing a National Register-listed building was an uphill, unnecessary, fight that they were likely to lose anyway. Nothing like doing the right thing after 3-years of refusal to do so to make you look like a hero.

Peter is a skilled architect. I have known him for years. We have served on committees together, occasionally worked on the same projects. He has won a DeMuro Award for restoration work. (FWIW, so have I). Members of Council suggested that the City would be better served hiring its own “second opinion” rather than running that process through the architecture firm that has led this effort to date. That would have been the right call. I believe it wasn’t done to assure that while restoration remains the goal it will not be done in a way that saves the city any serious money.

They will confirm their own advice of three years. Any savings below $7.2 million will simply be put into more expensive design or dreamed for improvements not otherwise affordable. And, of course, nobody has ever questioned or even considered the truly absurd $500,000 estimates for the Pioneer Log Cabin or the Winburn Way Community Center.

I cannot and will not support this bond. I do not believe that our Mayor and some of Council have truly looked at this project from that standpoint of taxpayers. They have, after three years of costly dithering, rushed to the ballot.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the resignation of the City Administrator is somehow connected to this unfolding disaster, just the latest in a series of truly abysmal, costly, decisions by this government. I will not vote to give them $8.2 million in the hopes they spend it wisely or with any frugality whatsoever.

Vote NO on this bond in May. We need a local government we can trust to spend money wisely. November is coming.

George Kramer on Nextdoor