Split council approves study of three, not just two, City Hall options
A nearly $100,000 study to evaluate three options for locating Ashland City Hall was approved Tuesday by the City Council thanks to a rare tie-breaking vote by Mayor John Stromberg.
The 4-3 vote approved the award of a contract for $97,085 to ORW architecture to study design and construction services for improving and updating the current site, renovating the civic center on East Main Street to serve as the new site, or retrofitting the Briscoe School site to serve as the new City Hall.
“We owe it to the community to look at all three sites,” Councilor Stephen Jensen said in favor of the motion.
“I’m interested in the smallest thing we can do, not the biggest thing,” Councilor Dennis Slattery said against it.
Public Works Director Paula Brown and Kaylea Kathol, project director, recommended the contract including the Briscoe site based off of prior discussion and a prior indecisive vote.
The other option was to go with a contract of $72,925 for a study of two concepts, including renovating the current site and updating the Civic Center, but omitting a review of the Briscoe School option.
Brown said eight out of 11 of the ad hoc City Hall advisory committee members for the project suggested renovating the current site, two voted in favor of a move to the Civic Center and only one suggested retrofitting Briscoe.
The city has been circling the decision to update City Hall for roughly 20 years. The current site is lacking in space and is susceptible to earthquakes.
The council also unanimously confirmed the mayoral appointment of Kelly Madding as the new city administrator. Madding has held numerous city leadership positions over the past 20 years, most recently as the deputy city manager of the city of Medford. Her first day is July 30.
Madding said she’s honored to accept the position.
“I got my first real job after graduate school in the city of Ashland about 25 years ago,” Madding said. “When I left the city of Ashland, I had this fantasy that at some point in my career, I would come back and end my career here. I think I’ve been working almost my whole career for this opportunity.”
Madding’s contract employs her with the city until June 30, 2021. Her monthly salary is at step three of the salary schedule ($153,446 a year) and will advance to the top step ($161,118) within one year of successful employment as deemed by the mayor and council. She’ll receive 80 hours of administrative leave each year to be used before June 30, and 40 hours each of paid vacation and sick leave. She’ll also receive $400 a month for automobile expenses.
Her vacation, retirement, insurance, sick leave and other fringe benefits are the same as they apply to any other department head. She’ll also receive compensation for services required for professional development, as well as travel expenses incurred while away at conferences, meetings and workshops in order to benefit the good of the city.
Email Ashland freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at Caitlin.email@example.com.