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The Scoop - Does future of city look Blue?
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It was refreshing to see that McMinnville city officials held a long-range planning session last week. Carefully mapping out a strategy for the future is a positive thing, I tend to believe.

It was interesting to see the top priorities city officials set. It is with cautious optimism I noticed the Blue Building atop that list.

Anyone who has followed city government the past decade knows Blue Building talk is a familiar refrain. It gets lip service, but it doesn't get action.

Past conversations involving the Blue Building have all gone like this:

1) The city decides something must be done with the Blue Building.

2) That "something" is always the dream of a wealthy developer waltzing into town with a Mercedes full of money that can't wait to be thrown at the Blue Building.

3) That person never materializes.

4) The city waits two years.

5) Repeat.

So now we're back at Step 1, which seems to have been repeated four or five times. Also of note, city officials are seeking another appraisal of the Blue Building after an appraisal some 13 years ago showed the building was essentially worthless and the property would have more value without a building slowly decaying there. 

Either the Blue Building has somehow gotten in better condition while sitting vacant and being allowed to rot, or that previous appraisal from 2008 is still accurate.

I'm also enthused to see an indoor pool listed as one of the city's top priorities, although that enthusiasm comes with a giant asterisk. One side of me says an indoor pool is a much more enjoyable way to spend taxpayer dollars than other things, like a sewer project. An indoor pool would attract visitors and be another jewel to add to McMinnville's crown.

The other side of me says we just obligated ourselves to a $10 million addition and renovation at McMinnville Civic Center, now Milner Recreation Center. When it comes to sharing the wealth, how much money should we toss at Parks and Recreation?

I don't fully understand how we spent $10 million on the Civic Center and somehow managed to avoid adding an indoor pool, the one thing local residents have wanted for 20 years.

Local residents have circulated petitions, gathered signatures and made pleas for an indoor pool during official city meetings. Yet somehow we're spending $10 million with no indoor pool.

If we look at the city government budget like a pecan pie, we don't want to give every piece to Parks and Recreation. Other departments might enjoy a slice, especially if that pie is made by Carolyn Bickford.

All things considered, I think few things would be more beneficial to downtown McMinnville than transforming the abandoned Blue Building property into a community asset. If that can be achieved, I will give city officials a warm round of applause.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.