A potential controversy between historical preservationists and city staff over the cost of remodeling the old Central Park restrooms seemed to fizzle out last week.
The two sides had been at odds over what is required to remodel the building into a storage facility for the adjacent Hattie Weber Museum, but have agreed to wait for the opinion of architects. City staff will select the architects in coming months.
The two parties entered into an agreement to save the building following a Dec. 17 City Council decision to move away from demolition and use the $14,000 it would have spent on bulldozing the building to help pay for a remodel. A recent city report stated the total cost likely will be more than $50,000.
The city found a community partner willing to raise enough money to accomplish the goal in the Yolo County Historical Society and the Hattie Weber Museum folks. They are interested in saving Davis’ only Works Progress Administration project in town. The WPA was a Depression-era program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to give jobs to struggling laborers, artists and others during the depths of America’s worst economic crisis.
Dennis Dingemans, director of the Hattie Weber Museum and vice president of the Yolo County Historical Society, submitted a letter to the City Council on Friday outlining many of the concerns he made public weeks before.
In the letter, Dingemans thanks the City Council for agreeing to try to save the building, emphasizes the preservationists’ enthusiasm for raising the rest of the money needed and asks that some of city staff’s requirements be made possibilities “rather than mandates.”
Among them is a call for a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning unit, even though the building will be only used for storage; a new roof to replace what Dingemans said is a good roof; and paving issues to be mindful of tree roots. Dingemans also said decorative brick ideas were not frugal.
“We’re hiring an architect and an engineer,” Dingemans told the City Council on Tuesday. “Let’s listen to them.”
The council seemed receptive to working things out with the preservationists, but not directly, owing to their busy schedule.
“Can these things just be worked out between staff and the Hattie Weber folks?” Mayor Joe Krovoza asked.
At that point, the council unanimously agreed to move forward with the accord with the imparted instructions to city staff.
It was then that council members tossed around ideas for fundraising by naming things after people who give a certain amount of money to the historical society.
The subject of how much money and what should be named after whom was brought up, but ultimately Dingemans said he saw it only as an option, not a necessity.
“We anticipate fundraising without making any promises to naming, but if the opportunity arises, we would be for it,” he said.
The council also thought there should be a plaque recognizing notable donors somewhere near the building. Dingemans agreed.
— Reach Dave Ryan at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews