During next week’s meeting, the Eureka City Council will discuss an array of important issues on a jam-packed agenda, including the possible purchase of some property, a funding request, street closures and much more. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Purchase of Former Jacobs Campus
The council will meet with negotiators from Real Property during closed session to discuss the purchase of the former Jacobs Junior High School campus in Eureka’s Highland Park neighborhood.
The school was built in 1956 around the peak of the timber industry but was shuttered in 1982 due to declining enrollment. After the school’s closure, the school district continued to use the facility into the early 2000s for various functions such as adult education and a continuation high school. The district declared the property as a surplus in 2008 and with the exception of the soccer fields and storage, the campus has gone unused.
The Eureka City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to sell the property back in May 2019 and the building was demolished in January 2021. The California Highway Patrol expressed interest in purchasing the property for use as a new headquarters but now it seems the City is the primary contender.
What would the City do with the site? Who knows! Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery told the Outpost this is the first time the matter has been considered by the council. “We will need to see if there is any interest before we can discuss.”
Film Commission Funding Request
The council will also consider a request from the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission for $10,000 in additional funding from the City to help support the efforts of hosting two major studio filmings in Humboldt County this year.
“Due to a staff of two (we are short-staffed) and a tight budget (we are underbudgeted), we are concerned,” Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine wrote in a letter to the council. “We are hopeful that if we can remedy the situation, then we will be able to perform at high capacity for these projects that stimulate the economy with outside dollars.”
One of the projects is projected to bring in “more dollars than the past decade of filming history in the county in less than six months,” she added. The details of the second project have yet to be worked out but Hesseltine said it has “huge potential.”
“We have been courting both studio feature films for three years, finally have received the green light, and are honored to host them,” the letter continued. “We humbly ask for additional funding (outside of our average annual funding) so that we may have the proper tools in our toolbox and do the City of Eureka proud.”
What is the production, you ask? Unfortunately, we don’t know.
Arts Alive Street Closure
If you attended Arts Alive last weekend you may have noticed something a little different. The City went out on a limb and decided to implement a trial street closure in the heart of Old Town to enhance walkability during the evening’s festivities.
How did it go? Well, it could’ve gone better. Some business owners complained about parking being impacted by the closure while others reported lost revenue.
“One business within the closure experienced a 30% reduction in sales than the [Arts Alive] in April,” the staff report noted. “…It was difficult to compare business impacts as COVID and the economy continue to impact business in the district.” The concrete blocks used for the closure were also criticized for not being “visually attractive” and the timing and mechanics of the closure were said to be “confusing and not communicated well.”
The idea to give the street closure a whirl came before the council last month. The Eureka Main Street Board of Directors sent a letter of opposition to the council on April 20 and asked the City to reconsider, citing fears that the closure would “greatly limit accessibility for employees, customers, and residents to reach businesses or their homes with reasonable ease.”
“The Board does not see the need for a trial run of the suggested street closure on Second Street or F Street because it has been closed for First Saturday Night Arts Alive on occasion in the past,” the letter stated. “The experience of Board members who own businesses within the footprint of the closure is that pedestrians do not utilize the street when the street closure is in place. Pedestrians continue to use the sidewalks and congregate in front of shop entrances. The added strain on the already limited parking is not good for businesses because people will decide to avoid the area overall, and businesses that typically benefit from the additional foot traffic of customers generated by First Saturday Night Arts Alive experience a decrease in sales when street closures are in place.”
Eureka Main Street sent a survey to business owners impacted by the closure. The results of the survey will be presented to the council during Tuesday’s discussion.
Those are the big-ticket items. The council will also discuss its Climate Action Plan, unpaid garbage and recycling collection fees, Eureka City Schools development fees and a budget proposal for 2022-23. Mayor Susan Seaman will also proclaim May as “Older Americans Month.” You won’t want to miss it.
The Eureka City Council meets on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. at Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street. You can also watch the meeting online here.