Deconstruction starts for old City Hall, some call for renovations

EUGENE, Ore. -- Crews started dismantling the old Eugene City Hall building Wednesday, and supporters and detractors gathered to voice their opinion on b a new building at the location on 8th Ave. and Pearl St.

With her hard hat firmly in place, Eugene's mayor Kitty Piercy got the decommissioning going as she took down the first slab. Many are welcoming the changes to the half-century old building.

"The city hall will provide a public open space that will function effectively," said Sarah Bennett of Downtown Eugene Inc.

A city council majority said the old city hall is antiquated, unsafe and has to be replaced.

"Think this project brings us to the point where we can open up our community to all stake-holders," said Eugene City Councilman Greg Evans.

On the other side of Pearl Street, members of "Save City Hall" had a different message.

"I thought the ceremony was the best PR campaign the city has ever provided," said Eugene-based architect Otto Poticha.

He said the city council is making a big mistake by rejecting plans to renovate the existing city hall. He argues accurate costs depend on final design plans after putting the job out to bid. The city has done neither, Poticha said.

"So to tear the only resource you have down before you have bids, I don't think is responsible. And I think it's a waste of money," said Poticha.

Building new, he said, will cost $17 to $20 million more than renovating.

Construction is supposed to start sometime next year on the new city hall, but Poticha said their group is looking at possible legal action to try to stop the project.