Aldermen discuss moving city hall, police station

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mayor Billy Spiers and the board of aldermen during last week’s meeting discussed moving City Hall and the Police Department into the burned out section of downtown to help revitalize the beleaguered area.

Bill Winborn started the discussion last Tuesday by proposing a feasibility study to see if it would be a good idea to sell both City Hall and the police station building and rebuild downtown.

“We just have to do something to stimulate downtown,” said Winborn. “It’s quite evident nothing will be done there. Why not us look into it?”

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Board members agreed they are troubled over the fact that two years have passed and nothing has been done to rebuild the city block destroyed by fire in December 2006. 

Spiers and the aldermen were encouraged when developer Mark Gibson and his partner Tyrone Gill bought the property that housed The Kloze Klozet and the Masonic Lodge that flanked The Other Side gift shop.

The two men approached the board last year with plans to build two-story retail and office spaces reminiscent of those in The French Quarter.

Aldermen agreed that if the city could get enough money from the sale of its two properties to warrant rebuilding downtown, it would be a good plan. The additional buildings would bring more people into the downtown area, along with additional parking.

Although plans are at a standstill on the downtown park near the railroad track, it is still expected to become reality.

Although board members agreed they would like to see retail spaces on Main Street, the higher costs of trying to match the façade of other downtown storefronts might be a deterrent to retail outlets.

The board agreed to pursue the possibility of purchasing the property and then to get estimates on what the current two city buildings might bring. Winborn said he would present figures to the board at the Tuesday, Nov. 4, meeting.

In other activities, the board approved putting a three-way stop at Railroad Street and Martin Luther King Drive. Currently, motorists have difficulty seeing oncoming traffic from the west when trying to turn onto Martin Luther King from Railroad Street.

Police Chief Charles Fazende said he is already aware of the difficulty and said he believes the stop signs would improve safety.