The city is considering a proposal from the Syracuse Lions Club to purchase the club's 20-year-old, 4,000-square-foot building as a City Hall because the club says it can no longer afford to maintain it.
Although not officially appraised, the meeting house has been estimated by three different construction companies to be worth about $164,000.Club Director Jim Rentmeister said that the city would pay the fair-market price on the center, but the club would return to the city any amount paid over $100,000.
The $100,000 from the potential sale would go into an escrow account from which the Lions Club would use interest earnings to fund projects for the community.
Rentmeister said that when the hall, located on one-half acre, was built, funds from rental usage by the community were expected to pay a large portion of thebuilding's upkeep. However, that has not worked, and the Lions Club is spending too much of its funds on upkeep of the building rather than on community service projects.
"We're just not getting full use of the Lions Building," Rentmeister said.
If the building is sold, the club would either rent a portion back from the city for its regular meetings or use the backroom of the cafe in town.
Mayor DeLore W. Thurgood said he has reservations about the proposal but will let the City Council consider and then vote on the issue. The Lions Club issue will be discussed further at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
Syracuse has demonstrated the need for a larger building, and the city had an $800,000 bond election for a new, 7,000-square-foot City Hall last year, but it was defeated by a two-to-one margin. Thurgood said he can live with the current size of the City Hall because that's what the residents voted for.
Rentmeister said that if the city doesn't purchase the meeting hall, private or business offers would be considered.
To buy or not to buy
The Syracuse City Council members have two concerns about the proposal to purchase the Lions Club building for use as a new City Hall:
1. The location of the Lions Club meeting hall, approximately 1900 S. 2250 West, in Smedley Acres. This may be a poor location for a City Hall because it's on a side street in a multiple- and single-dwelling housing section of the city. Increased traffic, especially from police vehicles, might inconvenience residents and even pose a hazard. Parking space is also a concern.
2. The cost of remodeling the Lions building. The City Council said that although it does have about $150,000 in a building fund it doesn't have money to spare, especially since upgrading its water system is the biggest issue in the city, not a new City Hall. Since a new City Hall would have to meet the rigid state codes required for all public buildings, the $50,000 leftover from the sale likely would not be enough for remodeling costs.