Florida Keys News
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Glynn Archer vote on agenda
Engineers will address questions at Thurs. meeting

Key West city commissioners are expected to decide Thursday whether to accept a downtown elementary school from the Monroe County School District for eventual use as the seat of municipal government.

A resolution has been prepared for a vote, after commissioners see a presentation from engineers about the options available for renovating the historic building and the related costs. After the presentation, questions from the commissioners will be answered. The public will also have an opportunity to make statements or ask questions.

Mayor Craig Cates -- a driving force behind the concept of Glynn Archer School as City Hall -- is hoping for a green light.

"To move forward with the contract the city of Key West has with the School District, to transfer ownership to the city," Cates said, is his primary goal.

Some commissioners have questioned whether the Glynn Archer route is the best way for city government to find a permanent home. Cost estimates for renovating Glynn Archer run from around $13 million to $20 million, according to consultant reports. There are concerns that costs could run even higher. But Cates and other proponents say the city will still save money in the long run, due to parking fees that will be charged at a garage slated for the old City Hall site on Angela Street and, once a new City Hall is ready, eliminating the cost of rent for the Habana Plaza storefront suites that now serve as a government center.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Old City Hall on Greene Street.

Among choices engineers will present is a total gutting of the building while maintaining the faÃßade -- essentially building a building inside a building. Another choice would involve repairs and replacements inside the building.

Commissioner Tony Yaniz was eager to hear what the consultants have to say, though he was fairly certain the gutting approach will serve the city better.

"I am looking for facts and information to be put on the table. I have sat down with city staff and gone over the pros and cons. I want to see which methodology works best for our constituency," Yaniz said.

Gutting the building and then rebuilding inside, he said, makes better sense.

"If you put a rotten mango in a bucket of good mangoes the good ones rot," he said. "We can have a historic building with a 21st century floor plan."

jdesantis@keysnews.com

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