On Dec. 19, the Hanford City Council voted 3-2 to demolish the historic old fire station in Downtown Hanford to make room for a parking lot for a city-run recreational facility. Hanford City Councilman Justin Mendes consistently says that the city should not be in the property management business, but this move continues that practice as the parking lot and recreational facility would be managed and owned by the city government.
The Libertarian Party of Kings County argues that the city should sell the old fire station to a private owner and let them renovate the property. Interested parties have come forward in the past expressing a desire to renovate the property. However, the City of Hanford, following the guidance of Darrel Pyle, the City Manager, has instead followed a path towards continued management and ownership of the property and towards expanding government-run recreational facilities in Hanford, specifically targeting the area near the old fire station and nearby city-owned recreational facility, The Plunge.
Main Street Hanford president, Steve Banister, has offered for Main Street Hanford to look into crowd investing efforts with Craig Scharton of Fresno, who has started such a crowd investing program, as well as Guerilla Development of Portland, another crowd investing program, in order to initiate a crowdfunding effort to renovate the property. Such an effort would not only eliminate the need for the government to spend the $2 million they say it would cost to renovate, as such funding would be through private organizing efforts, but would also protect the historical property and maintain its place as a historical part of the community of Hanford.
Libertarian Party of Kings County Chair, Dr. Kenneth Brent Olsen, argues that the city should vote to make the property surplus property and put it up for sale. Kalish Morrow, the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Kings County and former Hanford City Council candidate agrees with Olsen and argues that private efforts of Direct Public Offering as suggested by Banister would be a preferable way of dealing with the property and maintaining its historical value.
The Libertarian Party of Kings County adopted two planks in its 2017 program related to this issue:
We oppose the expansion of the city and local governments acquiring and managing non-essential properties and interfering with free market solutions to address the needs of the public. We support the actions of free market voluntary cooperation to meet these needs.
- We oppose the position that government is responsible for the recreational activities of its constituents, including the procurement or management of recreational properties.
- The Libertarian Party of Kings County calls on the City Council to reconsider its decision to demolish this important piece of historical Downtown Hanford and allow the community an opportunity to renovate it through private means, along with other historical buildings in Downtown Hanford.