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Officials debate moving city hall

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John Kerley

Alderman John Kerley surprised the council during the work study session June 26 by suggesting that the council revisit the location for the new city hall.

The city of Portland purchased property for a new city hall several months ago for $450,000.00 from Larry Collins. The property is located on Highway 52 near Searcy Lane.

Kerley based his suggestion on the fact that he had had so many people in the community make comments against moving city hall from the downtown area. He suggested that the council step back and use the remaining bond money to improve the police department and public safety, and added the architectural plans and engineering footprint could still be used.

Kerley said, "I know we've purchased the property, but (it) can be sold."

Prior to Kerley's comments councilmen Drew Jennings had suggested that more designs be requested from the architect. Several members of the council expressed displeasure at the designs presented.

Mayor Ken Wilber said, "We need to make a decision and stay with it. If we want to forget that, its fine; but we don't need to call down there and have them do five more designs and pay them more money. They have already done more designs than they were in agreement to do. We have people who have wanted to move from here, and then there, and now back here.

"The council needs to make a vote, stay with that vote, and go forward one way or another. "I'm not mad but we've chased this horse for two years. So if we want to chase it one more time, we need to take a vote and stay with it."

Wilber said he had no problem with giving the remaining bond money to the police department, but if the council votes to stay in the present location, things would need to be done to the current city hall in regards to safety issues and bathrooms.

The item will be placed on the agenda for the Monday, July 3 meeting of the Portland Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

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