I wrote a lengthy dissertation about the proposed Village of Clarkston city hall expansion discussing the process, planning, architecture, historic preservation and related issues.
I went on about non-compliance with Secretary of Interior Standards for historic districts, snout houses, renowned architect Louis Sullivan’s “form follows function,” architect Peter Blake’s book Form Follows Fiasco, ornamentation, and design philosophy.
Then I remembered that few if any care, including the decision makers in our city government.
We now have a trite design with period elements added on and creating a false history. An emphasis on garages, paving, and parking over people, especially those people that will have to pay for it.
Unannounced secret meetings of the Facilities Committee where the decisions are made with no notes or minutes of how and why our money will be spent, then announced as uncontestable conclusions. Our elected city council seems fine with this. They question little and challenge even less.
There is no approved budget, no approved funding, and no long-term budget plan even though required by law. There is little question that the city leaders are ready to spend $300,000, probably more, for private offices and to provide security to the city employees, not the public, even though the public is who they are supposed to serve and who will have to pay the bill.
The Department of Public Works will get a private office and more space, so they don’t have to drive a few miles for equipment they rarely use. OK, those persons will have to go outside to use the toilet, but a small price to pay. Trees and landscaping will be removed from the park so it can be paved over and give the city employees convenient free parking.
Of the 4,100 or so square feet of building, there will only be a 6 foot wide by 15 foot room for the general public and a toilet room that may, or may not, be accessible without going in the building. This is apparently enough to make it all worthwhile for the public that must pay for it.
It has already been approved by the Historic District Commission based on incomplete drawings, and now approved by the Planning Commission even though the information they are required to approve does not yet exist.
Originality, creativity, honesty, good process, good planning, good design, good architecture, good documentation, meeting the legal requirements, and representing the public would all be nice, but I guess too much to ask for.
It could all be done better. Fortunately for our city leaders, no one cares.
Clarkston, member of and past chairperson the Village of Clarkston Historic District Commission and a past city council member.