That was the thinking expressed by both Mayor Jim Kalb - a strong supporter of the plan - and Councilman Bob Mollette. Mollette so far has voted against it with hopes the city will move slowly and develop a long-range plan - one perhaps calling for saving money through renovation of the existing municipal building on Second Street.
Renovation of the Marting's building - called the City Center, for city officers and potential retail businesses - and building a new Justice Center on the former Adelphia Building site would cost about $12 million - after a return of $1.4 million from the Richard D. Marting Foundation.
Those were the estimates calculated by Tanner Stone Holsinger Donges Architects of Portsmouth.
Kalb's and Mollette's comments on the matter came in letters recently exchanged about the Marting's plan and on a downtown revitalization report submitted in June 2007 by Jacobs, Edwards & Kelcey - referred to as the JEK report.
Mollette called on Kalb and other council members to keep in mind, the report states, "All people interested in the success of downtown Portsmouth should keep one fact in mind: Revitalizing downtown is never the job of the city government."
The report went on to say only city government provides vital improvements and services such as policing, code enforcement, street maintenance, etc.
"But many of the deepest needs of a downtown," the report went on to say, "such as businesses, customers, people are things that no government can make happen.
"Every successful downtown revitalization effort is dependent on the long-term commitment of people who work, live, shop and find entertainment downtown."
Mollette also said, "The JEK report expresses caution about one-shot solutions. It warns us that one-shot solutions have never worked."
Kalb told Mollette he was pleased the councilman was familiar with the JEK Downtown Revitalization Plan for Portsmouth.
"I found the report to be a useful and enlightening tool in shaping ideas, hopes and plans for our downtown area," Kalb said.
The mayor also quoted lines from the JEK report.
"It tells us that plans are successful if they give the people a strategy to make something happen, but the plan is worth only paper if the community's people do not carry it forward," Kalb said. "This process is seldom easy, and there will be multiple frustrations."
The mayor said Portsmouth has had many frustrations over the past six to 10 years.
"But I believe," he said, "that the citizens of Portsmouth can, and will, come together to wholeheartedly support the plan for a City Center and Justice Center."
Mollette said, "The taxpayers' investment of an estimated $6 million at the City Center, or former Marting's building, might revitalize downtown Portsmouth. I am sincerely seeking to understand the problems associated with these efforts to avoid missing good opportunities or making poor decisions with our limited resources."
Mollette said he just wants "open dialogue" with various organizations "to assure myself and the taxpayers the proposed City Center and Justice Center is a workable solution and not a one-shot solution."
Kalb said in order to assure it turns out a workable solution, city leaders need to address what he called "short-sighted negativity that comes from a small but vocal minority" of Portsmouth's citizens.
During the Public Vision Open House in October 2006, Kalb said citizens were asked, "If you were king or queen of Portsmouth for a day and you could do anything, money no object, what one thing would you do?"
"Not surprisingly," Kalb said, "one answer was 'exile negative people.' I am certain the citizens of our community are weary of negativity."
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.