Eugene City Council and Lane County Commissioners agree on land swap

Eugene City Councilors and Lane County Commissioners reached an agreement Wednesday on a land swap. The county will build its courthouse on the vacant City Hall lot and the city will acquire the butterfly lot for the new City Hall. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. – After weeks of meetings, Eugene City Councilors and Lane County Commissioners were finally on the same page Wednesday when it came to deciding on where to build the new City Hall and County Courthouse.

Both the county and the city say there shouldn’t be any legal problems in their land swap to build their new civic centers.

The county commissioners voted first while other county officials looked on. The board voted unanimously to try to acquire the vacant City Hall lot from Eugene.

The lot would be the exclusive home for a new county courthouse.

“Stand alone on the city hall lot, actually offers the greatest ability to design security,” said Jay Bozievich, Lane County Commissioner.

Presiding Circuit Judge Karsten Rassussen said quick action on a site is needed so that Lane County stays in line for state funding to help build the courthouse.

Then, at Harris Hall, the city council went to work.

They voted 5 to 3 to enter into negotiations with the county to buy the butterfly lot and make it the home for a new City Hall.

They left the EWEB center out of their considerations.

“Building our own building will give us more control over those costs than moving into a building and assuming whatever liabilities are there,” said Clair Syrett, Eugene City Councilor.

“I will sit here as long as it takes to argue the fact that the EWEB site is the wisest choice for our downtown. It's the least expensive,” said Mike Clark, Eugene City Councilor.

Other councilors argued the EWEB option had higher costs upfront and moving there would be a signal that city government is abandoning downtown.

Meanwhile, some councilors pushed to delay a vote for more study.

“But at some point, even reasonable people need to say, ‘OK, I have to now make a decision,’ and I think that's the place we're at now,” said Chris Pryor from Eugene City Council.

Both groups said if a future court ruling changes plans for the downtown land swap, the fallback position will be the status quo – build City Hall on the vacant City Hall lot and the courthouse would need to go on the butterfly lot.

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