UPDATE: AT LAST NIGHT’S CITY COUNCIL MEETING THE COUNCIL VOTED UNANIMOUSLY IN A 5-0 VOTE TO DESIGNATE THE BUILDING AS A GOVERNMENT PARK. After extensive public comment, most of it in support of the change in zoning to a park, and some 2.5 hours in length in additional questions and comments from the Council, there was really no question which way the vote would go.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, starting at 7pm in City Hall, there will be a discussion surrounding the iconic and significant Historic Water Filtration Building.
Copied directly from the Agenda, item #3. For possible action: Matters pertaining to the rezoning of the Historic Water Filtration Plant block:
A. Public hearing on a proposed rezoning.
B. Consideration of Bill No. 1868, an Ordinance of the City of Boulder City, Nevada to amend the Zoning Map to rezone approximately 1.92 acres at 300 Railroad Avenue from C1, Neighborhood Commercial to GP, Government Park.
We think it is fair and accurate to say, that universally in town, this building is beloved and all wish it to remain cherished and preserved. Given that the building has been boarded up and unfortunately vandalized and fallen into disrepair over time, the issue is – how do we do that? In what way, how, if and what do we actually do with the building? And how and who will pay for it?
Looking at the immediate consideration, here are a few facts:
1. This is a City owned building, and that is not at issue here.
2. Because it is City owned, nothing can be done with the building without either the City Council approving a lease in the building or anything operating in the building. Nor could the building be sold without voter approval. This proposed zoning change has no effect on the above.
3. This affects the building itself only, and has no impact on the Community Garden nor the Reflections sculpture part around it.
The language on the current City Code (see it HERE) for a Government Park is very brief, to say the least, and does not particularly specify what then the building could eventually become, if anything. And in fact, if the building is made a Government Park, that means nothing else could operate in the building without the Council and all of the powers that be, first amend the current city code. Many ideas have been tossed out: a bar/restaurant, a coffee shop, a museum, or an educational center, to name a few.
Residents nearby in the area have expressed concerns that whatever, if anything, is done with the building, they would like to have their voices heard and are concerned about any potential negative impact from traffic or noise. One can easily understand their concerns.
The Planning Commission has already weighed in on this issue, stating in their opinion that the building should remain zoned as is. You can watch the video of their discussion and public commentary HERE, (beginning at about the 36:00 mark).
Proponents of the GP rezoning cite that doing so would in effect be “corrective zoning”, as the area is already widely used and enjoyed, as a park. Those from another point of view express concerns that changing the designation to a Government Park might stifle creative solutions and conversation about what the building could eventually become.
Another point of view, expressed eloquently and repeatedly by Grant Turner, who does have an interest in potentially seeing the building developed into any of the above ideas; points out that this decision should be made by more than just the City Council right now, and should instead allow for more time, workshops and public input on the matter be heard first, and the matter decided by a general public vote.
Also worthy of noting, is the report from the recent Stantec City Facility Report we told you about HERE. In that report, on page 10 they recommend: The City should consider re-purposing the Water Filtration Plant Building and pursue market analysis of alternative use and/or ownership strategies. Alternative uses would allow this important historic building to become an asset that could be enjoyed by the public.
So, tonight we’ll no doubt hear some spirited discussion on this topic from the general public as well as the Council. We’ll see what they decide!