BISBEE — For the past two years, three blackened walls of hull of the former City Hall has been a reminder of the sad day two years ago when it burned practically to the ground.
The mayor and council have tossed about different options which could be taken to rebuild it as it originally stood in Warren, as many citizens prefer.
During Tuesday’s meeting, city council members Anna Cline, Joan Hansen, Leslie Johns, Bill Higgins, Joni Giacomino and Luis Pawlik and Mayor David Smith agreed to hold a work session to discuss how the city should go about putting the project out for bid.
City Manager Theresa Coleman suggested they consider a design and build contractor to save money and prevent redundancies. Costs are reduced when the builder is also the designer.
Architect and resident Al Hopper disagreed with her and said the city would have more control if an architect designed the building. He has volunteered many hours as well as contracted his design skills for buildings in the city, the county and local organizations.
“City Hall is an important focal point of pride for the residents, “ Hopper added. “An architect is the way to go and should be hired at the beginning of the project.”
The council decided to hold a work session in the next two weeks to discuss how to put the project out for bid — a design and build contract or an architect and construction firm. The meeting will be open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. with the date to be announced.
The city only has around $2 million from the insurance payout to put toward new facilities.
Fees across the board are set to be raised in the city as recommended to cover costs in providing such services, Coleman said. These fee increases will include the building inspector, the city clerk, finance, library, police, public works, the Queen Mine and the fire department. Coleman worked with staff to determine the actual cost of services and raised fees accordingly.
The council also agreed with the move by the county and other municipalities to push having the Chiricahua National Monument upgraded to a national park to draw more visitors. A letter was approved and addressed to Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
Higgins was the sole “no” vote and explained he thought changing the designation would just bring in more people and disturb the quiet wilderness area. He also said the National Parks Service could raise the fees and possibly put them out of reach of the local people who enjoy it.
Smith said he has also been working with Sen. Martha McSally’s office about the proposed designation.
A consent agenda item was removed for discussion as requested by Higgins so he could question the opening of the tasting room Passion Cellars in Old Bisbee prior to the city council approving the liquor license application. Though he suspected Passion Cellars owner Arleen Linda Domanico had a temporary license from the state, he would rather know it for a fact.
“I’m not saying anything is inappropriate. It’s just we don’t know if they have the temporary license,” he added. “I don’t want to shut people down, but it would have been nice if someone from Passion Cellars was here so we could ask questions.”
City attorney Jim Ledbetter said the owners probably have the temporary permit and the council could cause the state board to revoke the permit if the council opposes it. Also, the business is located in the established entertainment district of Old Bisbee which the state sees as an indication to approve liquor permits.
Pawlik suggested approval would give the appearance of the city “being a rubber stamp. There’s no reason for us to make an issue of this, but people need to know and follow the process.”
Hanson suggested tabling the matter so the council would know the current state of the temporary license.
However, Ledbetter pointed out the temporary permit could expire before the subject could be brought up again. He also asked the council members to contact him with questions ahead of the meeting so he could provide information required.
When the vote was taken Higgins and Pawlik opposed approval. Cline, Hanson, Johns, Giacomino and Smith approved the request.
The council came to a decision concerning a donation by the sporting company Head Corporation of wind screens for the fences of the pickleball courts in Higgins Park. The wind screens would have the company logo on it and was a sticking point for the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Hansen, the council liaison to the committee, said the committee members wanted to keep advertising out of all city parks, but they were willing to allow the screens to be put up for the months of March, April and May, though the corporation wants them up all year.
Linda Moore, representing pickleball players and Bisbee Vogue, Inc. (BVI), which found the donor, asked the council to allow them to be installed and see how the community reacts.
Cline was in favor of the screens being up all year and recognized the support of the community for the game.
When the vote was taken, Pawlik, Higgins, Johns, Hansen and Smith voted to accept the donation but only allow them up for the three months. Cline cast a “no” vote.