City Commission considers new city hall location

Paducah City Commissioners got their first glimpse at five potential locations for a new city hall building.

At the November 18, 2014 City Commission meeting the elected officials approved a motion to proceed with preliminary design to construct a new city hall building in the Civic Center Zone which is the zone that includes and surrounds the existing facility. City Manager Jeff Pederson told Local 6 that had some benefits and challenges. 

“It was nice to be able to work with in a confined space,” he said. “It made the process a lot more straightforward, but it also made the range of options, optional sites, that we came up with less distinctive between them because they’re basically in the same location.”

The five potential sites include: the existing site, the city-owned parking lot at 5th and Clark, Dolly McNutt Plaza, the Post Office location, and a site that straddles 5th Street between the existing facility and Dolly McNutt. 

At the meeting Tuesday, Planning Director Steve Ervin provided the Mayor and Commissioners with a site selection process developed to help make decisions regarding the City Hall project. It involved scoring a site from one to nine regarding ten criteria. The criteria are: zoning, land area, visibility and prominence in the Civic Center Zone, parking availability, pedestrian availability, vehicular accessibility, impact on government services, construction costs, obstacles to proceed, and utility relocation.  

The existing site received the best score with a new city hall straddling 5th Street receiving the second best score and Dolly McNutt Plaza coming in a close third. Each have obstacles, the most obvious is if they choose the current location, where the current city hall services and employees would set up shop. Erwin told commissioners they’ve looked into the former, and empty, social security building on 7th street. He said it’s the right size and in a convenient location. 

As a result, the Mayor and Commissioners decided to move forward with the development of a request for proposals for architectural and engineering services to design a new City Hall.

The building footprint in all three top sites would be similar because they are all so close together so they can move forward with the design process without nailing down the final location just yet. Pederson said the design process could take up to a year so it’s important to keep the process moving while giving commissioners time to make the best decisions. 

“We’re trying to move fairly methodically,” he said. “We’re trying to provide pauses from step to step. We’re trying to provide adequate time for the commission to weigh what are really very big decisions on the way.”

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