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'Public square' part of Eugene, Lane County land swap for Courthouse, City Hall

Lane County would get the former site of Eugene City Hall as part of a land swap. Eugene would build a new City Hall on the site of the current Butterly Lot, west of the Courthouse. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Lane County and the City of Eugene have reached an agreement to locate a new County Courthouse on the site of the former City Hall; put a new City Hall on the Butterfly Lot west of the existing Courthouse; and expand and enhance public space in downtown Eugene to "restore the historic public square."

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City Councilors approved the plan Monday night.

The County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to support the agreement Tuesday.

According to a joint statement from the City and Lane County:

Over the last several months under the direction of the Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners, a Joint Work Group of city and county staff have collaborated on an opportunity to site City Hall, the County Courthouse and the Lane County Farmers Market in some of the most prominent and well-visited public spaces in Eugene and Lane County.
The work focused on the common goals of providing the best possible services to our communities, making efficient use of public resources, and the creation of a truly great civic center to serve Eugene and Lane County for generations to come.
The agreement, approved by both the City and County, builds on our shared history and the community founders’ original vision of a “public square.” It supports mutual goals of providing a permanent location for a year-round, public farmers’ market and continues the momentum of downtown revitalization.

The move means the City will be building on land deeded to Lane County for the county's use by Eugene Skinner.

There have been concerns in the past that restrictions in that deed would prevent the City from building on the land.

The original 1856 map for Eugene shows a public square on the land.

And Eugene's original City Hall was built where the Butterfly Lot stands today.

But in 1909, county officials determined the City Hall was there illegally. The structure was removed.

"The Skinner restriction was of course that it remain in public use - but for the county," historian Bob Hart said.

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