Monday, October 17, 2005

The Blue Heron Blues

It's showtime on the City Beat. We'll cover tonight's City Council meeting for a midnight deadline. Meet at the first-floor conference conference of St. Patrick Hospital (500 W. Broadway) a few minutes before 7 p.m. Get a good seat. Take good notes.

Why are we meeting at a hospital instead of City Hall? Funny you should ask because that oddity looks like the Big News on tonight's agenda.

Here's the deal. Missoula's City Council is essentially homeless, having surrendered its comfortable chambers to Municipal Judge Don Louden, who's court was bursting at the seams. Initially, the council had considered moving the court to a former night club on West Pine Street called the Blue Heron. The council bought the building for $550,000, but when estimates came in for remodeling and cleaning up some asbestos and funky mold, the council balked. Eventually, and with some embarrassment, it decided to sell the Heron and build a new City Hall annex to house a new council chambers. Case closed?

Hardly. Uncomfortable in its awkward settings (where it could remain for two years or more) the council's Public Works Committee voted 6-1 last week to recommend the Blue Heron sale be delayed and the building be remodeled as a temporary home for council meetings and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. The issue is contentious. In fact, the council was soundly criticized for buying the night club in the first place.

What will the city do? You tell me. By midnight, and not a minute later.

Reminder: No class Wednesday. Be working on your candidate background reports, which are due in class -- in writing -- Monday, Oct. 24.


pete said...

i am so glad i get to cover city council instead of watching the rams colts game
Pete Delmoe

Brenna said...

I don't understand why the city council was going to sell the Blue Heron after buying it. It cost them $550,000 and they don't want to pay extra to fix it up when adding onto City Hall would cost around 1 million? So what happens to the Blue Heron if they decide not to keep it, someone else buys it? I agree with Bob Lovegrove in thinking that the city council would be better off just staying with the Blue Heron. They already went through all that time and trouble, why not just stick to the game plan instead of creating another one?

Swibold said...

C'mon, Pete. You knew the Colts were going to win.

Brenna -- Who knows how much more they'll have to put into the Heron? And even if they do, what are the city's chances of getting its money back? In the end, it will still be an old building that needs work, and Kadas said he's not interested in really fixing it up.