Bountiful city council votes to cancel plans on new city hall

Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 09:45:52-05

BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- Bountiful City Council has voted to cancel their plans to build a brand new, $13 million, city hall.

The decision is a win for many residents, who have been speaking out for the past year against the new building.

"My email inbox was flooded with congratulations and 'aren't we relieved' and 'it's about time' and 'this is the best thing that's happened in months,'" said resident Dean Collinwood.

The community applauded the council's vote during Tuesday's meeting.

"I feel like that applause is for good will in our city and I think that is really important," said Mayor Randy Lewis.

It was just last year that the council approved plans for a new city hall building to be built on the site of the old Stoker Elementary School on 200 South 100 East where the University of Utah's Bountiful campus currently is.

"Citizens, when they looked at that, said no matter what that's just too expensive when we already have a perfectly fine building to use," said Collinwood.

Collinwood, along with 4,000 of his neighbors, signed a petition asking for the new city hall be put on the ballot for a vote, but the city said no because it's an administrative decision.

"You can't ask voters just a simple opinion question do you want this or that? It's not legal," said city manager Gary Hill.

Hill said the new city hall would have revitalized the downtown.

"Maybe spend some more money and put it in a location that adds some vibrancy to our historic downtown and develop a plaza around it to better support those businesses," said Hill.

Residents didn't see it that way. They said that money would be better spent on road repairs, so a group of them teamed up to sue the city.

"Really the choice was sit down and do nothing or stand up and be counted," said resident Ken Knighton, one of the residents suing the city.

The lawsuit was the tipping point for the city.

"At that point, I think the city took a step back, our council and mayor just said we as a community don't need to have this much anger over a building, we can do better," said Hill.

The community said they got what they wanted and now it's time to move on.

"And I'm very hopeful that going forward the city is going to spend more time listening to the citizens and about their needs," said Knighton.

The city instead will spend about $6 million improving their current building which is about 40 years old. They also plan to still demolish the old Stoker Elementary School and build a plaza in its place in hopes of bringing more people to the downtown area. They will be asking for the community's input on that project.