By Roger Bloom | Editor
The imminent closing of the current City Hall site in West Newport has sparked a city review of its facilities that could lead to major changes.
With the new Civic Center due to be completed in 2012, the city is faced with the question of what to do with the current City Hall on Newport Boulevard and 32nd Street.
“This takes us to a more robust discussion about facilities,” said City Manager David Kiff at a City Council study session.
Library branches, the lifeguard headquarters, community centers, city yards and the police station are all being reevaluated, Kiff said.
One concept presented to the City Council last month envisions: putting a community center at the City Hall site and perhaps moving some library services there; housing the lifeguard operations in two towers – one on each pier; moving the PD to the current General Services Yard near Hoag Hospital; moving all yard operations to the Utilities Yard and downsizing the city fleet.
These moves could enable the city to sell or lease the current police station site in Newport Center, close the West Newport Community Center and sell that site, dispose of the current lifeguard HQ and sell part of the current General Service Yard, Kiff said, adding that the city could realize some $24.5 million from the moves.
“There are some very interesting possibilities” in the concept, said Councilman Keith Curry this week, citing in particular “taking the PD off the most expensive property in Orange County.”
Still, Kiff and Curry both cautioned, the proposals are only conceptual at this point and the report to the council was only to inform them of the staff’s thinking and get feedback.
“There are a lot of moving pieces,” Curry said. “It’s not done.”
Indeed, Kiff acknowledged at the meeting that the city staff had not yet checked to the deed to the police station to see if uses and/or a sale were restricted when the land was given to the city.
During comments at the meeting, Councilmember Ed Selich suggested any mid-sized facility at the current City Hall site will need adequate parking.
Councilmember Rush Hill said he thought the plans are good, but would like to see excess city property leased rather than sold.