A wise decision on White Hall
As the lead article in Sunday’s edition of The Daily Sentinel made clear, members of the Grand Junction City Council agonized over the decision about whether the city should acquire the burned-out shell of White Hall and demolish it.
That is to be expected. We want our elected representatives to think long and carefully about how they spend our tax money, especially when the spending is out of the ordinary.
But we believe the council made the correct decision, for several reasons.
First of all, White Hall has been a public health hazard, an attractive nuisance for youngsters and others, not to mention an eyesore, since fire destroyed the main part of the structure last September. Somebody could easily be seriously injured in unauthorized exploration there.
When it became clear that owner Rosemarie Glas had neither insurance on the building nor the resources herself to cover demolition of the building, it fell to the city government to act to protect the public. Demolishing the building is the best way to do that.
But in agreeing to remove the relic, the city demanded and received the title to the property, which occupies a prime spot at the corner of Sixth Street and White Avenue in downtown Grand Junction.
Once the burned-out portion of White Hall is removed and the lot cleaned up, it will be a valuable property.
Whether that value will exceed the cost to the city of the clean-up is yet to be determined. But the sales price of the property when the city sells it, combined with future tax revenue if it is sold to a private entity, will eventually repay the taxpayers’ investment and more so.
Also, the Downtown Development Authority has agreed to work with the city to create plans for how the property might best be developed.
That seems a far more proactive and practical approach than doing nothing and hoping some buyer will eventually come along, willing to buy White Hall, demolish the blackened shell that remains and replace it with something functional.
Furthermore, there is the broken-windows theory of crime and community blight. It holds that minor problems such as broken windows in buildings, if left unrepaired, encourage more broken windows, more dilapidated buildings and more crime.
Spending taxpayers’ money to promote public health and safety and improve the community makes sense.
White Hall will be a symbol for this community one way or another. It will either be an indication that people here don’t care about a dangerous, unattractive, charred shell remaining in the core of their city, or a representation of a community’s determination not to let the city deteriorate a little bit at a time.
We’re glad the City Council wisely chose the latter course.