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Eugene's new City Hall plans hit another snag

The City of Eugene's hope to build a new city hall on land next to the Lane County Courthouse is getting more complicated. The Circuit Court Judges say the land, called the butterfly lot, must be used for a future courthouse.

Lane County's Judges have hired a lawyer. They oppose the land being turned into Eugene's new city hall.

County Commissioner Pete Sorenson says, "I think what the judges are trying to do is protect the butterfly lot for future use as a courthouse and for present use as a parking lot adjacent to a courthouse."

In a letter to the city and county, the court administrator says the butterfly lot was donated to the county on the condition it be used for justice.

The state could build a new circuit court here in as little as ten years, as it builds state courts to house circuit courts that had been in county court houses.

Eugene officials believe only a quarter lot is deeded for court use. At one time, the entire lot was divided by a road. The city believes the north side, the county bought from private property without use restrictions. The south side, next to the farmers market, is the side Eugene believes must be used for courts.

Jim Carlson, the Executive Manager of Central Services, says they may swing a deal through a land swap.

He says, "What we have talked to the county about is assuring them that a quarter block site could be available for a future court facility."

The city's other problem, the owner of the Rock-n-Rodeo, also needed for the new city hall plan, isn't interested in selling.

Carlson says "We know acquiring property is always difficult, its never easy, but we continue to work with county officials to develop a plan for that."

Commissioner Sorenson says Eugene may have to look at plan B, building on the current city hall site, to leave room for a new justice center next to the courthouse.

He says, "I think the public and citizens expect to have a functioning downtown county court house that involves the court system."

The council will review the legal opinions next Wednesday at a new city hall work shop. It runs from noon until 3pm at the Eugene Library.
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