Manzanita New City Hall and The Music Man

By Will Stone, Manzanita
The Music Man was a 1957 Broadway hit play and later movie and TV adaptation, and 2021 revival on Broadway. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill posing as a boy’s band organizer who plans to skip town without providing music lessons or uniforms.
The current manipulations by Manzanita City Council regarding the new City Hall make me feel like a River City, Iowa resident from the play, being fed a bill of goods, told one thing while another is planned.
What does trouble, trouble, trouble right here in River City have to do right here in Manzanita?

From a May 29, 2013 article Manzanita City Hall: Stay Put or Move: Then Mayor Garry Bullard said, “I don’t think the citizens of Manzanita want to build a facility through an added tax.” There was discussion of alternatives. Councilor Mike Scott, (now Mayor), weighed in “I say remodel the old fire station, the heck with a second story, and keep the parking lot across the street, which is going to be home to the farmers market most likely.” Councilor Hans Tonjes, a local developer, cautioned against remodeling, saying, more often than not, he was disappointed with the results.
Sounds like he has a prejudice against a remodeled City Hall.
Here we are eight years later. The Council rejected their own advice, indebted the city to buy the Underhill property (current debt still $1 million), paid lip service to remodeling the old growth structure, while manufacturing excuses for scraping the property for a new, costly, yet to be determined price tag, Taj Mahal of a building. Through a changing litany of justifications, the proposed new building would be built for growth, maybe an emergency shelter, tsunami proof, everything under one roof, maybe add affordable housing, fight climate change, insert current hot topic here. Can’t you hear The Music Men saying, “And it won’t cost you anything, or maybe just a little more on your already incredibly low property taxes.” Cue the 76 trombones.
A November 2019 bond for the new City Hall was rejected by a 68% majority. Mayor Bullard was right about one thing. Manzanita doesn’t want higher taxes Temporarily staggered, Council claimed to hear citizens‘ concerns. Later, Council launched Manzanita Listens, a series of Zoom meetings for citizens to ask questions and offer opinions on options for a new City Hall and its financing. Except no talk about a remodeling option or its potential to reduce costs was permitted. It was the only topic off the table. The council should have named the series Manzanita Listens to What Council Wants To Hear.
Listen to what Manzanita is saying:
• Many citizens wonder if Council has their own agenda rather than citizens’.
• Many citizens don’t want higher property taxes and Council wasting their tax dollars.
• Citizens don’t want manipulations of City finances to pay for more than we need just to ask for more elsewhere later.
• Council is underestimating the full cost of the project. Lumber costs are up 180% or more since the Bond measure rejection.
• Why not consider a fair estimate of the remodeling of Underhill option?
Many think we don’t need extensive services from municipal government. They want a small government that provides basic utility services and police to keep the tourists in check. As soon as there is an oversized building, they think council will find new ways to spend other peoples’ money.
The Music Men and Women at City Council are leading us down the primrose path of their predetermined, grandiose City Hall plans and will claim the narrowly focused Manzanita Listens advised them to do it. And they will want you to open your wallets to pay for their dreams if they can’t
manipulate City finances or sign a new non-voter approved loan to achieve them. Otherwise, voters would have to approve a Bond.
Citizens deserve and should demand a comparison of a new City Hall vs. a remodel. And they want complete costs and a clear idea of how to pay for it. Since City Hall is supposed to belong to the citizens it represents, this seems only fair. City Council – are you listening?