City Hall Proposal Squeaks By In First Council Vote
City leaders narrowly cleared the first hurdle toward adopting a proposal to move city operations to the current Lexington Herald-Leader building Tuesday, but proponents still have work ahead of them to sway key council skeptics.
The Urban County Council took its first tentative step toward resolving a longstanding debate over the future home of Lexington's government center, but the decision was far from unanimous. The council had to enlist Mayor Jim Gray for a tie-breaking vote, placing negotiations with CRM Companies on the docket.
The local developer's proposal would collect city operations, currently spread out across five buildings, under one roof in a renovated Herald-Leader structure at Main Street and Midland Avenue. That location just outside the downtown core has – like many aspects of the project – garnered conflicting appraisals.
"I see the city hall as another expression of the populace is changing, how our society is changing," Councilmen Bill Farmer said. "A building that, yes, is welcoming... yes, it's on a gateway. But you know what? It's easy for everybody to get to."
District 3 representative Jake Gibbs pushed back, warning of a "traffic nightmare."
"There's been no consideration given to that. There was no serious look at the potential traffic patterns," the councilman said.
But Mayor Gray said the fundamentals of the project are sound.
"It's arguably as clear as any project I have ever seen," Gray said, before casting the deciding prelimary vote. "The financial benefits are clear."
Supporters will need to win over two more council members, however, to approve the resolution launching negotiations with the developer. A final reading is slated for September 13. Should talks move forward, CRM would come back with a final proposal – one that would again need two readings and a vote.
The council heard three hours of public comment on the project last Tuesday.