Sep 6, 2007

A tale of two city halls

In what might be a new trend that we haven't caught on to yet, two local municipalities are debating the merits of abandoning their downtown city halls.

The city of Troy has floated the idea of demolishing their current structure (after all personnel have been relocated, we assume) while a Saratoga Springs council member has suggested selling that city's place of business to a private developer.

One is a good idea, one is a bad idea. Let's give a reason for each:

Good Idea: Troy

As expressed in this column previously, the Troy City Hall is the poster child of everything that was wrong with the Urban Renewal programs of the 60's, 70' and 80's. This building resembles a cement fortress that it totally out of place with the Monument Square neighborhood and would look more fitting if it were the Allied Base HQ in Iraq. Bullozing it and starting over is the smartest thing that could be done to assist in the Troy revitalization movement. Let's just hope that good planning and design efforts go into the new retail & residential structure that is planned for that lot and that the nmew city hall finds a home within the downtown core. If this works out, maybe they will set their sights on demolishing that other nearby disaster: the Atrium.

Bad Idea: Saratoga Springs

The Spa City's City Hall, on the other hand, is an old-school buidling that, like the city as a whole, was fortuante enough to avoid most of the ravages brought on by Urban Renewal. Its design elements fit in perfectly with the Victorian and post-Victorian architecture of downtown, and it is one of the prettiest buildings in all of town. Doing business in City Hall serves to give residents a feeling of civic engagement and a link to a great past. Turning it into high priced condos would exemplify everyting that is bad about the recent trend of Saratoga Springs becoming a suburban ghetto. Let's drop this idea now, before it gains any kind of traction.

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