Our View: A committee of citizens could be the answer
There are more than a few differing thoughts as to where a new Portsmouth City Building should be located. There is no majority consensus. At best, the project has moved forward in much the same manner as a rudderless ship.
First Ward Councilman Mike Mearan offered his thoughts at his first official Council meeting Monday.
Mearan suggested purchasing the Fifth Third Bank building downtown for city offices if it becomes available. The possible sale of the building is being evaluated according to Fifth Third Bank Marketing Director Susan Miller in Huntington, W.Va.
It is another interesting idea, subject to the availability of the building, price and answers to a number of ancillary issues that would surround such a project.
One of those issues should be not letting $1.8 million potentially go to waste. If the city does not give the Richard D. Marting Foundation an acceptable plan for the former department store site by March 2008 (per the contract signed with it by Mayor Jim Kalb), the foundation will keep the money.
If you believe the current city building is adequate for our short-term and long-term needs, read no further. If you feel otherwise, proceed.
Kalb and Council members Howard Baughman, Marty Mohr, Dave Malone, Bob Mollette, Jerrold Albrecht and Mearan must pursue a solution that can build a consensus and move this project forward in a definitive and positive direction.
Since numerous efforts have not developed a majority consensus, one solution might be a committee of rational community taxpayers of differing opinions on this issue - not a new idea, but still a good idea - charged with determining what direction this project should take, including location and possible cost.
We urge city leaders to put this committee together and let it study the city's building needs and listen to input from others in the community as well as those working in city government to try and end this stalemate.
Volunteers, give your city councilman or mayor a call, as we're sure they would welcome your commitment to finding a solution that is in the best interests of the greatest number of Portsmouth taxpayers.