CARLSBAD — The ideas flowed freely as more than 50 residents took part in two workshops concerning a new city hall and civic center.
The city hosted the two gatherings to gather information about the four city-owned sites and what residents want included in the civic center.
The Carlsbad City Council has set a goal to break ground on a new city hall by 2023, and it also wants to include a civic center, which could host events, concerts, meetings and other civic-minded activities. The current city hall is more than 50 years old and the new building would be a way to consolidate about 300 employees instead of being spread across the city.
Some departments, though, such as the police and fire departments and public works, would not move in to the new city hall. Regardless, the city is actively pursuing residents to “dream big” when it comes to the civic center.
“The city started this three years ago with the idea for a new city hall,” said Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio. “Now, we’re looking at a civic center, too.”
The new city hall is estimated to be 120,000 square feet and cost between $72 million and $114 million, for which development fees over the past 20-plus years have been set aside. Funding for the civic center, meanwhile, would come from other sources.
“The City Council has said no to a tax increase or taking out a loan,” Barberio said of funding the new city hall. “We are very early in this planning process. Next year, we expect to select the site.”
During the workshops residents evaluated the four city-owned sites: the current location at Pio Pico Drive and Carlsbad Village Drive, a lot adjacent to the Faraday Center, the Farmer’s building on the corner of El Camino Real and Faraday Avenue and Pine Park.
Residents also added sites not owned by the city such as the Encinas Power Plant and in the Ponto area. However, the city would have to purchase the land, something it is trying to avoid as much as possible. The lot next to the Faraday Center would have to be bought by the city, but its proximity to an already existing facility makes it an attractive option.
As for the civic center, suggestions from residents included having a performing arts or concert hall, accessibility, gardens and meeting spaces, to name a few. Many residents looked at pairing the two facilities on the same site, which would be ideal they said, but Barberio said the two don’t have to be placed together.
“I would like to see a larger hall for the arts,” resident Bonnie Hanlan said.
Cities such as Escondido and Vista have combined those facilities to attract more events and public activities.
The new city hall is needed as the old facility is old, technologically outdated and has a limited City Council chambers. Barberio said the new building would accommodate about 300 people, but it also must be flexible to hold more or less employees; plus have the capability to grow with technological advances.
Another goal for the city is to broaden its reach and civic engagement with residents.
Starting July 1, residents can give input through the city’s website at www.carlsbadca.gov/input.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.