Response of Leslie Barras and Historic Orange Preservation Empowerment to City of Orange Press Release of April 29, 2016:

“The information proved in the lawsuit shows that current City Hall can be rehabilitated and the City actually budgeted for it. The City’s press release states that a consulting firm ‘determined’ that it would be ‘costly’ to upgrade the current City Hall.  The City Manager’s memo to the City Council recommending buying the First Financial Bank states that this same firm ‘showed’ that the ‘current design’ of City Hall ‘was not conducive to the current and future needs of the City.’”

“But, in fact, this study determined that City Hall could be renovated to completely upgrade all heating, air conditioning, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing for the entire building and make the interior space more efficient for slightly over $391,000.  The City went to the Texas Historical Commission to be sure the project ‘would be in good standing’ and the state agency responded supporting this rehabilitation. This year’s city budget includes $350,000 for City Hall improvements.  In sworn testimony during the City Hall lawsuit hearing, the City Manager agreed that all of these statements were correct.”

“We’re talking about 15 positions total.  The current federal office space standard is 170 square foot per employee, which includes file storage. The current City Hall provides about 500 square feet per employee. The First Financial Bank building would give almost 1,700 square feet to each position.  Spending $2 million on an oversized building is just the start of costs to the City and taxpayers.”

“In the spirit of trying to open up a public dialogue, Historic Orange Preservation Empowerment brought options to the table to the City Council and the public.  With respect to the Capital One building, the standards for access by the disabled do not require that an elevator be installed to reach all upper floors in a public building. If the City is confident in its costs estimates about this building, then it should provide all the studies to the public, as it should have with actual public involvement from the start.”