Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Return to City Hall

Last week, the Register-Star reported that the offices of city government would be returning to 520 Warren Street next week, on March 4 and 5: "City offices moving back to City Hall in March."

It has been a year since city offices decamped to the Central Fire Station while renovations at 520 Warren Street took place. The renovations, required by the City's settlement agreement with the Department of Justice over ADA compliance, involve the following:
  • Lowering the side doorway to street level and installing a lift
  • Creating a handicapped accessible parking space on Warren Street
  • Installing an accessible service counter
  • Removing the raised dais in the Council Chamber 
  • Installing new flooring throughout the first floor
  • Creating a handicapped accessible restroom
In addition, it was decided to use the opportunity to remove asbestos on exposed pipes in the basement of the building. All told, the renovations cost upwards of $700,000--$435,000 from a reserve that had been established and $337,933 in a loan from the General Fund, which was repaid by the proceeds of a bond.  

With all these changes, it would seem logical to include one more improvement: making the seating in the Council Chamber for meeting attendees more comfortable. In March 2020, a resolution was considered by the Common Council to reupholster the benches that provide seating for the public in the Council Chamber. The resolution read in part:

WHEREAS, the cushioned seats on the public benches in the Common Council chamber are in a significant degree of disrepair; and
WHEREAS, to allow that condition to continue and worsen would be disrespectful to members of the public who attend Common Council meetings and could be considered as acting as a disincentive to public participation . . . .

The resolution proposed that $3,200 be taken from the fund balance to reupholster the benches. The resolution was defeated 7 to 3 because it was the beginning of the pandemic, and councilmembers seemed to agree it was not a good time to spend the money. It's too bad that, in a project that cost way more than 200 times the amount needed to reupholster the benches, no one thought to include the benches in the scope of work.

1 comment:

  1. A competent city manager would likely have had the awareness and forethought to get this done, qualities our current mayor lacks. We deserve so much better.