With fire department administrators moved into the , has plenty of vacant space these days.
Over the next year, that space figures to play a pivotal role in a $1.8 million reconfiguration and remodeling of the building's first floor.
The old fire administration offices will be used as part of a revamped and expanded work space for first-floor city staff, which includes the communications department and some ParkTV folks.
Many current offices on the floor are tucked away in hallways and have little or no natural light. The design plan calls for the offices to come out into the open more, and for the use of glass walls and dividers to allow light coming in from windows to carry farther.
As far as first-floor public space, the reception desk will be moved so it's in front of vistors as they walk in—not off to the side as it is now. And the first-floor staircase will be given glass doors and windows around it, allowing visitors to more easily see where it is.
Two new public meeting rooms will also be added, and bathrooms will be moved closer to each other—and closer to the main lobby.
At a Monday study session, City Council members acknowledged that the public might be leery of another public building project after the city just pumped $15 million into the two new fire stations.
But ultimately, council members said the more than 40-year-old building simply needs the work, as it has been repurposed and reconfigured too many times over the years— particularly on the first floor, where the fire and police departments both used to have offices.
"I was one of those folks thinking this is a lot of money to spend right now,” councilwoman Julia Ross said. “(But) I see why we need to do this.”
Bids on the project are expected to come in early next year, with construction slated to start in the spring and last six to nine months. The city will work on plans to keep city hall open—and keep providing services—during construction.