Two lines in the story about City Hall’s unlucky rain damage (see item below) gives some hope that all is not lost for Stockton’s historic City Hall.
“It is no secret City Hall is in need of renovation,” the story says. “The city has been planning tentatively to temporarily move its headquarters into office space at 400 E. Main St. while repairs are done.”
Up until that blurb, I believed the Council and city employees had resolved to permanently forsake the 1926 building. Which would be a grievous error, as I argue here. because it is such a big part of our civic and architectural heritage.
It turns out that the abandonment of the building, which could send it to its deathbed, is not a lock.
The city has a tentative agreement, subject to approval of its bankruptcy plan Oct. 1, to lease 65,000 square feet of space at the new City Hall building, 400 East Main Street for eight to 12 years at a good rate.
After this move, the city will have the old City Hall analyzed. “After we move we’ll see the extent of work that needs to be to to this bulding, and how we would pay for that,” said cit spokesperson Conie Cochran.
If restoring te building is affordable, moving the city workforce back in remains an option.
That’s good news. Though the cost of repairs is probably going to be a whopper, it means the building is not as good as condemned. It raises the possibility that a drive to save City Hall could raise funds.
So there’s a chance.
This is not to be indifferent to the need for city employees to have a comfortable and efficient work space. But consider what abandoning the building means: that over the years city of Stockton employees and leaders deliberately starved the historic treasure of proper maintenance so they could afford their budget-busting compensation. The old City Hall would be a monument to bad government and the new building would open under a cloud.