COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood City Council is once again looking at sites to build a larger, but compact and efficient City Hall complex.
The concept has been a re-occurring topic for about 25 years, said Manager Doug Bartosh, but repeatedly has been "put on the back burner." The city now occupies part of 13 properties throughout town. Most of the identifiable municipal offices in Old Town are small and cramped.
The city has repeatedly looked at re-arranging the elements in the town block south of Pima Street on Main. A couple concepts designs recently would sacrifice older building and construct a new two-story structure using part of the Old Town Activity field behind the current town hall or rearrange basketball courts.
But, in a recent development, the owner of the land of Old Town property between 5th and 7th Streets, opposite Hog Wild BBQ, has offered that land in trade.
One of Cottonwood's oldest structures, the Strahan House, once stood on the property.
Joe Nackard is proposing to exchange the 10 acres for four municipal buildings and land in the town hall block: the current city offices, council chambers, clerk's office and the finance building. Nackard would re-develop the buildings into additional retail space.
Under the same plan, the City would continue to retain the Civic Center, the present Business Assistance Center, the old Parks and Recreation building and the playing field, now used for farmers market and other activities.
Originally, the offer would have the city lease back its current office space at $.50 per square foot until a new structure is built. But a new proposal would offer the space rent-free for the first year.
Bartosh suggested the city would have a longer period to retire existing debt and to build, if it purchased the land outright. Nackard has been asking $1.6 million for the land but it would have to be appraised, Bartosh said.
The land is probably too large for city needs, but part of the land could be sold to allow for more retail space.
Nackard, speaking to the council Tuesday, warned that if the City remains in Old Town, it has no additional room to expand in the future.
Council members were concerned about the loss of play area in Old Town and especially the basketball courts, which, they pointed out, are always busy during evening hours.
Terence Pratt also expressed concern the Boys and Girls Club would lose its location.
Bartosh said the director of the Cottonwood Program said the club is outgrowing its space and has been looking for a new location and there are discussions about moving the club to the former fire house on Main, a location opposite Cottonwood Middle School, with access to the Garrison Park playgrounds and the Recreation Center.
The council also seemed to like the idea that moving the city hall could create a gateway for Old Town, giving the popular area more room to grow.