Pamplin Media: West Linn council considers lease deal for historic City Hall
Holly Bartholomew January 20th, 2021
At third meeting of year, leaders discuss old building, Airbnbs, racial tolerance education
WEST LINN — After its relationship with the Willamette Falls and Landings Heritage Area Coalition (WFLHAC) seemed to sour last summer, the city of West Linn may be on track to renew that partnership and plans to restore the historic City Hall building.
Members of the coalition joined the 2021 council for the first time at a work session Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Mayor Jules Walters asked Community Development Director John Williams to bring a lease agreement for the council to discuss and consider to a future meeting. Last August, Williams presented the council with a lease agreement that would allow WFLHAC to manage the building as a chief tenant after restoration efforts to turn the building into a multicultural center.
The former City Hall building, which is still owned by the city and sits next to the Arch Bridge and Willamette Falls, has been the focus of plans between WFLHAC and the city for several years. Those plans remained on track until the August 2020 meeting when former city councilors and current councilor Bill Relyea decided they may want to change course.
Following that meeting, WFLHAC Executive Director Siobhan Taylor and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council Secretary Jon George (also a WLFHAC leader) expressed feelings of betrayal and disappointment at the council’s backtracking on the plans.
Taylor told the new council at Tuesday’s meeting that the coalition wants to partner with the city in the original plans for restoring and running old City Hall.
“We definitely have skin in this game,” Taylor said. “We’ve put too much time, effort, talent, commitment and resources into this project. We hope that you feel the same way and want to continue to partner with us.”
The original plans for the building included office space for WFLHAC and other local nonprofits, a community meeting space and gallery space for local artists.
Williams and City Attorney Tim Ramis also reminded the council of a legal memo the previous council received in November, which advised the council on the flexibility of GO Bond funds. This was after councilors questioned whether the $2 million the council had allocated for old City Hall restoration in February 2020 could legally be spent on the project.