Antioch Council moves forward on new department building on 3-2 split support

Site Plan for proposed new city department building. Source: City of Antioch

In spite of traffic concerns from neighbors

Barbanica, Ogorchock want to wait for funding source, first

“I also know I’ve been here long enough it’s not going to cost $12 million…” – Mayor Thorpe

By Allen D. Payton

Julianne Davis said she lives on W. 10th Street in the 200 block. My window looks right out on the site they’re talking about building on. She spoke about the traffic and parking issues on the street and “33 accidents right at that spot.” My big concern is parking, traffic, accidents.

“Can we please deal with the traffic, parking and accidents before moving forward,” Davis stated. “The Portuguese hall has parties every week. If we want to have an event we don’t have parking.”

Resident Gary Wells spoke next saying, “Great concept. I give you guys your do for trying to do something at that spot. But $14 million it seems like it could be put somewhere else. Downtown. Rivertown needs something for our youth. We’re going to have to meet somewhere in the middle, there. It’s dangerous on that street. But to bring this at this corner, I stay right across the street from it. I’m going to be really, really irritated if we don’t do something about the traffic, first.

“We talk about revitalization. We took all of those non-profits out of that building. I’m sure we can take this $14 million and do something better. For safety reasons I say ‘no’. We have to involve safety and involve the community, there. Or I’m going to sell my house and move from Antioch. My neighbors, we’re tired and fed up. We don’t want this building built before something’s done with safety on that street. We have people breaking into cars.

Resident Leslie May said, “I still work for one of the non-profits that’s in that business. But I’m glad we’re out of that building. We had a rodent problem, breathing problems. I did say to the council, ‘you guys going to open this, here, you better do something about this traffic.’ I sit in the back of my yard and hear horrible crashes…every single week.”

You’re going to have to do something. Hopefully, we will get traffic calming devices. I’m sure something has to happen before that building is completed.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker said, “I’m excited about this opportunity…it’s the type of capital improvement project we need for the community. Our intent is not to put a building into a spot that’s going to be dangerous for the community. In one of the slides, there’s a turning lane into the parking lot. I don’t know how long these problems have been happening, because I’ve only been here nine years. But I know they’ve got to improve before the opening. We have youth who live in District 1 who can’t always get over to southeast.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson, who served on the council subcommittee dealing with the department and proposed building with Torres-Walker, said, “I’m really excited about this building. It’s not only for the youth it’s for all individuals who have issues…to share knowledge, be in community, break bread. Yes, we know there are the challenges around traffic we can work on. I just feel that the work we are doing…we’re not breaking ground tomorrow…it’s going to be a positive for the community, not just for District 1.”

“People have mentioned $14 million, wow, that’s a lot of money,” Torres-Walker said. “Is there active fundraising happening…to supplement the funding? she asked of Tasha Johnson.

“Yeah. That’s the hope. We wanted to get the conversations started on approval of the building,” Johnson responded who spoke of grant writing. “Hopefully, we can find a source or two.”

“My concern is, I think we need to look at the budget before we start making commitments for funding,” District 3 Councilman Mike Barbanica said.

“I love the design of the building and believe it can be a positive for the community,” said District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock. “We don’t have the funding for L Street. Until we have the funding and the budget’s clear and know where the funding is going to come from, I can’t go forward.”

“It’s a couple things,” said Acting Public Works Director Scott Bunting in response to a question by Torres-Walker. “Moving forward does need some kind of commitment. The construction doesn’t have a budget.”

He then spoke of the traffic calming devices and a possible grant to pay for them.

Forrest Ebbs, “The step that’s missing in the schedule is the funding. If you move forward with this you’re aiming very high. It’s clear this is not going to be a 100% General Fund project. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be funded. I would say the next step would be to explore funding options.”

“I don’t think it’s prepared for a commitment of total funds,” City Attorney Thomas Smith added.

“We did a survey, once, a few years ago. One of the things that polled very, very high was a municipal center…to centralize all these different services,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated. “In my head, there may still be opportunity to work with, like the county. Because they’ve been talking about a new library for a long time. I don’t know, it’s just an idea.”

“I was surprised by this. I thought we were going to stick to the confines of the existing building,” he continued. “I appreciate where we could go with this. But I also know I’ve been here long enough it’s not going to cost $12 million. We redid City Hall…and the price tag kept going up and going up. Effectively our hands were tied and we had to finish what we started. Those aren’t the final numbers, so, we have to budget accordingly.”

“So, there is no funding for this, already. We’re going to have to figure out the funding at a later time,” the mayor stated. “Figuring out the cost is going to be a hard thing to do. I can be for this.”

Barbanica said, “no, I would rather go the other route and find funding, first.”

Torres-Walker said, “yes.”

Ogorchock said, “funding, first.” She then suggested getting the County to sell the library on W. 18th Street to the City for $1.00 and add a second floor to that building.

“I’m confused by funding, first,” Thorpe said.

“This report is premature is what you’re saying,” Wilson said to City staff members.

“We cast a vision, first. We need to start targeting…if we pair the project with the funding,” Acting City Manager Forrest Ebbs said.

“I think we’re moving forward, so you’ve got direction,” Thorpe said. “Wow, this is a big deal. But not without making W. 10th Street safe.”

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply