Council decided to put a hold on making a decision on downtown furniture until budget discussions. The matter was up for conversation Monday, as city staff are awaiting the go ahead to order the furniture.
However, when Coun. Kathy Moore suggested council defer the decision until budget talks, a floodgate of possibilities seemed to open. Moore said council should look at it alongside other budget items, and alongside the total cost of Columbia Washington, which is still unknown.
Mayor Greg Granstrom noted that there had been years of process and decision making that had precluded the report that staff had prepared on the furniture.
“We spent years, with lots of public input, design charets, etcetera, the public were very much interested in having the street furnishing,” Granstrom said. “If we were to proceed with the street furnishing it would be part of the borrowing on the project.”
He said deferring the matter might say to residents that council had wasted a lot of time deciding on it.
Coun. Cary Fisher disagreed, saying that a sober second look was all he was looking for.
“I totally support having all the furniture for the streets, just as other members of council probably do as well,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere and I think it’s a prudent decision to delay it.”
Coun. Kathy Wallace took it further, saying that council was missing a potential opportunity to involve the community.
“I’m not sure that ordering street furniture out of a catalogue really reflects the character of our community,” Wallace said, adding that part of the reason she voted to separate the furniture from the contract was so council could take a more creative approach to putting street furniture downtown.
The cost of the proposed furniture is $100,000.
“I know that there are many very artistic and crafty people in this community that could maybe build some street furniture that would be far more fitting for our community then what I see being suggested here,” Wallace said. She wanted to see council consider going in another direction with the furniture, despite the lack of time for consultation.
Coun. Jody Blomme said that Wallace said pretty much what she wanted to say.
“It doesn’t make sense to pick expensive pre-fab furniture out of a catalogue when we have so many able craftsmen locally who could do this likely for cheaper. We would be able to hire locally, source locally, have craftsmen who understand our downtown much better,” she said.
Granstrom noted that staff have put in “extensive time.”
Coun. Tim Thatcher said locally made furniture would probably be nicer, but likely wouldn’t be ready for another year.
Moore said when she made the motion she was only thinking about the finances, but liked the discussion around the table.
“I wasn’t unhappy with the furniture that was selected, but I really like the idea of getting more of the artists involved locally, and we didn’t do that,” she said.
She suggested that if the old street furniture was still around, then perhaps it could be used to tie the city over for a season, and allow council more time.
For the full agenda, go click here.