Waddell questions City Hall project

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At its Tuesday meeting, the Bainbridge City Council voted to temporarily table a contract with an architectural firm picked to work on a proposed redesign and renovation of City Hall.

After Clemons, Rutherford and Associates of Tallahassee, Fla., had presented their qualifications and initial findings to the Council on Tuesday night, Councilman Greg Waddell asked whether it would be appropriate for the city government to begin what could end up being a multi-million dollar project given currently poor economic conditions.

Hobby replied that the council had discussed the proposed redesign at its annual retreats in the springs of 2008 and 2009. The council budgeted money to pay for planning on the project, which would be funded for by the one-cent SPLOST V sales tax approved countywide last fall.

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At the council’s Sept. 15 meeting, Waddell asked Hobby to clarify what he said was a public “misconception” that the City Hall renovation project was too grand in scope. Waddell asked Hobby to elaborate on what structural and safety problems existed.

At the time, Hobby stressed the first step of the project was “just planning” and said the public’s input would be incorporated into the final design.

“I’m sure we will end up with a nicer facility,” said Hobby, “but it will be one that is better functioning, safer and more structurally sound.”

Mayor Mark Harrell countered Waddell’s suggestion the city government was broke, referring to the $6 million the city has in reserves in addition to its annual revenue and expected SPLOST receipts.

Councilman Edward Reynolds requested the item be tabled until the council’s next meeting so that Waddell’s concerns could be addressed.