The City of Portland Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously on Aug. 5 to purchase

the property adjoining city hall located at 201 A-C South Russell for $195,000 to make way for the

renovation of city hall and to improve the traffic flow around the building.

According to Mayor Mike Callis, the city needs to go ahead and purchase the property before the six-month option runs out on September 4. He expressed a concern that if the city had to put an extension on the option, the property price could go up. He added he had hoped the city would be further along in the bid process for the renovation, but there were many factors that have delayed that process being completed.

Finance Director Doug Yoeckel said he was worried about what would happen if the city chose not to purchase the property. He said that the changes will improve the flow of traffic at city hall, which presently has some safety concerns for people leaving the building in the back. Currently, the drive-in window lane is right in front of the doors people use to exit the building. Recently, caution signs have gone up on the doors.

The purchased building will be demolished to make way for an extension of High Street behind city hall. The proposed plan includes closing High Street before it joins South Russell near Main Street. It will curve behind city hall with traffic exiting onto South Russell from where the building currently

stands. The street behind the area of the Temple Theater and Southern Occasions Event Center will

become one-way for deliveries to businesses along that strip.

During public recognition time, Yolanda Whitson, owner of Yolanda’s Hair Care & Design, located next door to city hall property, addressed BOMA to ask what the city planned to do with her and her business.

Whitson said, “I’m here for Yolanda’s Hair Care & Design right here next door to you. I would

like to know what your intentions are to do with me and the support and help I need.”

On Thursday, Aug. 8, Whitson found a letter taped to her door signed by Struble Properties stating that the City of Portland had purchased the property where her business is located at 202A South Russell St., and that the city will not be leasing the property and has asked that all tenants vacate the property before September 15. Whitson has operated the beauty shop from this location for 18 years.

The purchase of the building will be funded by the original bond, which has approximately

$800,000 left. The $5,000 the city put down to obtain the option will go toward the purchase price.

The property is owed by Edgar M. and Laurie N. Struble.

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