The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City hires OPN Architects for $400,000 to help with open houses to determine future of flood-damaged city buildings; county, schools dropped out of process

In City Hall, Floods on May 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

The much-anticipated series of public open houses will start June 23 to help the city determine the future of flood-damaged city buildings.
And Wednesday evening, the City Council hired OPN Architects Inc. of Cedar Rapids for $400,000 to help lead the several-month process.

OPN not only will help conduct the public open houses, but the firm also will provide design and planning options and an analysis of the costs involved in renovating buildings or building new ones.

OPN’s contract runs from May 28 through Oct. 31 and may be renewed in 60-day increments.

Among the key flood-damaged buildings under discussion will be the library, the Paramount Theatre, the Ground Transportation Center bus depot, the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall, the Public Works Building and the existing federal courthouse, which the city is scheduled to assume ownership of once the new federal courthouse opens in the fall of 2012.

Sufficient damage was done to the library that it will be rebuilt not renovated, and the city’s library board already has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to allow the city to rebuild the library on a different site.

The council also will be interested in hearing about proposals to build a new City Hall, called a community services center, a new Public Safety Training Center and a new community operations center, which would house city departments like fleet maintenance, streets and solid waste.

Only city government is left to participate in the lengthy process to get public input on facilities.

Some months ago, both Linn County government and the Cedar Rapids school district were involved in the facilities process when the idea was that the differing jurisdictions might “co-locate” in a shared facility.
The county dropped out a few months ago, saying they wanted to move faster than the city. The school district dropped out this month.

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  1. Is anyone in this city paying attention? You have got to be kidding me? $400,000 for a 5 month PART TIME position? I’d like to pick up an application for their next “consultant” position. Just how many unemployed friends does Jim Processor have???

  2. Public input? Except when it comes time to pay, then the city council wants to bypass voter approval of bond issues.

  3. I said I would reamin silent, but both previous writers are correct. Ron is proven and can end this. I was previously participating in the neighborhood process, and I had thought it was useful. Until the city “facilitators” kept pushing downtown housing, explaining to me if they incresed downtown population, businesses would follow. I think exactly the opposite. Bring jobs, people will follow and the private sector will start service businesses to serve the increased population.

    And if you’re going to build downtown housing, why not someone local. Why George Sherman again. And they lent him money @ 1% to do it claiming once again that no one locally was qualified and there were no local bidders.

    And now, to pay to help another “public input” process? With what many of us think have predetermined outcomes by city facilitator

  4. Public input? If the public input is anything like the Sasaki led neighborhood redevelopement meetings, then I would be very concerned CR, as you will have little if no input, you will be led like lemmings off a cliff, thinking you are making a great contbutions to the future of CR. Don’t be fooled, I beleive Sasaki was paid up to 1.5 million and this new firm OPN 400,000, firms are not paid this kind of money without THEIR ideas and plans being what will be, under the facade of “Public Input”

  5. Just by coincidence when you go to OPN’s website one of the services they offer as having expertise in is, “Bond Issue Planning” and one of their signature projects is the Watertower Condo’s (i.e. Osada). These are two issues on which Rick has written on in just the past few days.

  6. Just another example of excessive,needless spending by our City Council.We’re in a recession,we’ve cut budgets but yet they can
    come up with funding to pay all of their consultants and give
    exorbitant pay raises to certain city employees.Also why have they taken away our rights to vote on some of these things.We are the ones who are going to have to pay for all of this.It’s time that we make this administration accountable to us and include us in these spending ventures.

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