FLORENCE, Ala. — Florence city leaders said that a new city hall and new parking decks are greatly needed downtown, however, a vote to approve the proposal for the projects failed to pass at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Mayor Andy Betterton said plans are still in the works despite the vote. Betterton said a new city hall is needed because the current location has been used for various reasons for seven decades and it’s time for a change.
“We’ve got a whole floor that used to be a jail that’s not usable right now, it’s just a storage area,” Betterton explained. “We’ve got the 911—it’s going to move out and they’re going to have their own place that’s in the basement. We’re in a building that’s probably got some asbestos in it that we’re going to have to deal with, it needs to be replaced.”
Betterton explained that the same goes for the downtown parking deck which has structural damage. In light of recent events in Surfside, Florida, he said it’s a problem he wants resolved.
“In 2017, an engineering study was done of the parking deck and pieces of concrete were actually falling off some areas, rust in the rebar, that kind of thing,” Betterton said.
At 43 years old, Betterton said the deck is past repair and is planned to be demolished, with two smaller decks taking its place.
Tuesday night, the city council vote on the projects was split 3 to 3, causing the plan to be denied as it needed a majority approval, but Betterton said that doesn’t mean it’s done for.
“All six of the council, I believe, understand that we need a new deck and we need a new city hall; there’s no disagreement there,” Betterton said.
Betterton explained the disagreement stemmed from issues regarding the proposed decks’ locations and the possible effects on downtown businesses.
The mayor said discussions will continue with the city council as well as downtown business owners. It’s Betterton’s hope that all parties can work together to develop a plan that works for everyone.