City Council Discusses The Fate Of Arnold Hall
July 19, 2014
By Carlee Edwards
There was continued discussion over the space at 123 SE 3rd Street, across from Arnold Hall during the Lee’s Summit City Council meeting, regular session no. 5, Thursday evening, July 10 starting at 6:15 p.m.
As previously proposed, the plan to use the space as an outdoor performance area was discussed at length. Three design options were presented to the council on May 15th and the architects were encouraged to explore options C which is called ‘The Arch.’
This design keeps Arnold Hall intact, with major construction to the west and centers around an arch shaped lawn that could have multiple uses and a stage at the far end. Improvements would be made to Arnold Hall, to the bathrooms and adding water lines.
The budget currently shows that the project, as it stands, would be under the 600,000 budget, with the restroom construction and water upgrades as alternates.
However, the council asked the team to configure designs that would be possible if Arnold Hall were removed. This idea became concept C-1. This would allow the performance space to hold more people and larger events with more tent area, more open lawn for picnics, festivals, ect.
This option would require much more construction, on both tearing down Arnold Hall and building/upgrading sidewalks, parking lots, sewer lines, ect., which drives the cost up, exceeding the 600,000 budget.
Other options, C-2 and C-3, were also presented with various layouts, concrete parameters, and parking options.
“I’m sure it will look fine, but I just have to say, it is different and it is a lot of money…” Councilmember Forte said.
Discussion followed about funding and where the money could possibly come from.
“This is typically what happens when art culture comes into a community,” Mayor Pro Tem Grey said. “It pushes communities to be more than they think they can be.”
The voters voted on this project and the plan for a performance space was passed with the hopes to make our community a place where people can gather together.
“This isn’t really about whether we have a restroom; this is about whether we have a place for people to come into our community,” Grey said. “This is about creating a community. This is about creating a sense of space for this community.”
Grey wants the city to create something that this community can be proud of. He wants to put Lee’s Summit on the map and bring in business that will support not just the downtown business but the arts and culture of Lee’s Summit as well. It was decided that Arnold Hall, if kept, will need to be remodeled on the outside at the very least to keep up appearances.
“Arnold Hall has sat there for 10 years and no one could find a use for it,” Councilmember Holland said.
“Imagine what a performance center would look like with Arnold Hall sitting there and then imagine what it’d look like without it.”
“We’re trying to do this right,” Councilmember Mosby explained. “If we settle for less than ideal then we’re not doing the community members justice.”
Due to the extent of the funds required for this project, Mayor Pro Tem Grey made a motion, second by Councilmember Holland, to direct staff to identify funding options for the concepts presented of 123 SE Third Street in excess of the bonds. Four voted “Aye”, Mayor Pro Tem Grey and Councilmembers Holland, Seif and Mosby, and four voted “No,” Councilmembers Binney, Forte, Carlyle and Johnson. Mayor Rhoads voted “No,” to break the tie and the motion failed.
A motion was then made by Councilmember Seif, second by Councilmember Carlyle, to ask staff to look at other options for Arnold hall, as opposed to removing it, which would include the possibility of other tenants that could make improvements and keep under budget the outdoor performance area.
An amendment was quickly called for by Councilmember Holland, who asked that the staff only look for privately funded tenants.
“I don’t want a situation where we’re robbing Peter to pay Peter,” Holland explained. “Some of these groups are receiving sizable amounts of money from the city as a part of their budget.”
This amendment was second by Councilmember Mosby, and the council voted seven “Aye” and one
“No” from Mayor Pro Tem Grey.”
During Council Roundtable, Councilmember Carlyle held up a piece of paper and clarified that it was a letter from the Economic Council (EDC) and Downtown Main Street explaining that they have interest in using Arnold Hall as their office spaces.
“They would look into making the needed upgrades to the inside and the outside of the building,” Councilmember Carlyle explained. “There is another option for Arnold Hall.”
Mayor Pro Tem Gray said he had concerns about the letter but would reserve them until another time.
As the original motion was passed earlier in the meeting, the discussion of the performance space and the future of Arnold Hall is left to be worked out in future meetings.