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Politics

Zephryhills seeks new home for City Hall

The Wachovia Bank building is an option, but the city manager thinks the asking price is too high.

By MINDY RUBENSTEIN
Published June 11, 2007


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ZEPHYRHILLS - As the city continues efforts for downtown redevelopment, officials have been trying to find a new home for aging City Hall.

Built in the 1960s, it is showing signs of age, along with outdated decor, low ceilings and lack of usable space. After trying to purchase the Wachovia Bank building downtown on Fifth Avenue as a spot for a new City Hall, the city discovered the building was owned by an outside company, which wanted an offer of about $1.5-million.

City Manager Steve Spina thought that was too high; the city recently got the facility appraised, and the market value is closer to $980,000.

City planners are working with architects to come up with a downtown plan, including whether to purchase the building. The options will be discussed during the City Council meeting at 6 tonight.

While the bank building has about 8,000 square feet and is comparable to the current City Hall on Eighth Avenue, it offers a better utilization of space, including more access for the disabled.

The drive-through lanes could be used for services such as paying utility bills. And a city hall downtown would be more in line with its plans to develop the area, officials say.

The city also is considering moving its 4,000-square-foot library, possibly tearing down the City Hall building and constructing a new facility.

The city has put on hold previous plans for an approved $5.6 million, 18,000-square-foot library planned for 10 acres the city purchased across from the Zephyrhills Police Department on Eighth Street.

The city also has discussed plans for a new performing arts center.

An upcoming $50,000 feasibility study will look at the options for that facility, as well as the overall needs and demographics of the area.

With a slowdown in development, the city has fewer impact fees to work with.

In other news, the city will discuss Monday whether to hire a director for its tennis complex at Zephyr Park. Karl Hinkle, assistant coach and trainer for the Zephyrhills High School girls' tennis team, offered his services to the city, requesting a formal title of director of tennis to be posted on an official sign at the park.

He owns and manages United Auto Paint & Body Shop on State Road 54.

In exchange for running a tennis camp, leagues and tournaments, he would like to reserve one court daily for at least six hours to provide private tennis lessons, which he would charge for. He also hopes to host one tournament a year.

Spina is recommending the city approve the request on a trial basis for six months. Rick Moore, public works director, is "adamantly opposed" to the proposal because he believes it would mean using public courts for private gain.

"I am somewhat uneasy to argue this point at a public meeting since it is entirely a different view from yours," Moore wrote in a memo to Spina. "I also do not want to cause any controversy to our City Council."

[Last modified June 11, 2007, 07:26:26]


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