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Somerton considers new City Hall, plaza
SOMERTON — Residents would be able to gather for arts exhibits, festivals and other community events in a tree-lined plaza next to a new Somerton City Hall building, under a proposal prepared by consultant to the city.
State Avenue would be closed between Main and Spring streets to make room for the plaza, which could host such events as the annual Somerton Tamale Festival that draws tens of thousands of people to the city's downtown every December.
“It would be a unique space for the community, where the works of local artists could also be presented,” said Dave Fackler, of the Phoenix-based firm Nielsen-Fackler Planning & Development.
Located on the north side of the plaza would be the 10,000-square-foot City Hall building, designed to place all functions of municipal government under a single roof.
City officials don't know how much the government building and public project would cost, since the project has yet to advance from the concept phase to a final design. Another question is where the money will come from to pay for it.
“We don't know yet how it's going to be financed,” Mayor Martin Porchas said. “I believe we would have to do it with our existing sources and not establish a special tax. But that's an issue we'll discuss later.”
An initial design for the plaza and City Hall, presented recently to the Somerton City Council, was prepared as part of a downtown redevelopment study that the city had commissioned Fackler's consulting firm to do.
The design, which draws from ideas provided by Somerton residents and downtown merchants, would place the new City Hall just north of its current location at State and Main.
While Main Street would remain a through street, its intersection with State would be lined with stamped asphalt designed to create a historical theme in the downtown.
Apart from consolidating city offices, Somerton officials say, the new City Hall would relieve overcrowding in the current building, which, they say, is also costly to maintain.
Two years ago, the city began a program to buy property in the area to make room for the new City Hall and for parking for the public.
The consulting has had a series of meetings with city residents and officials as it prepared the conceptual drawing for project, Porchas said, and “we hope to arrive at the final design in December.”
Still, he cautioned that seeing the design through to development will be a long-term project of indefinite length.