New renovation plan proposed for City Hall

How to fix a crumbling city hall —that’s the problem the Paducah City Commission has been working on for more than a year. 

The building itself is 50 years old. City leaders initially considered relocating city hall to one of three sites and demolishing the building. At last night’s city commission meeting, however, commissioners were presented with a different idea that promises to preserve the city’s building and its design at a cheaper cost.

The proposal is to renovate, not demolish. One of the immediate concerns with the building is the canopy. Engineers say City Hall isn’t structurally sound with the chipping and sloping canopy. Another concern is that, because the building is 50 years old, it doesn’t meet modern earthquake codes. Those issues mainly concern the basement and the foundation.

Sharon Poat, Paducah-McCracken County Growth Inc spokeswoman, says she grew up around city hall and watched it change through the years. She said she didn’t realize how much she valued the building until she heard it may not be there for another 50 years.

“It was intended to be a place where you were sort of uplifted, and it spoke to community spirit,” Poat says. 

Poat says her group recognized the possible demolition as an opportunity to help renovate what they consider a landmark. Poat says the group wants “to keep something that’s far more unique and adds more value to the community.”

But the city says it needs to see a value in renovation savings. The renovation is quoted at $4 million, which is cheaper than a previous engineering firm’s $15 million quote.

City Manager Jeff Pederson says the new plan to fix the two main concerns with the building appears more fiscally responsible. Pederson says it’s becoming more important to come up with a solution for the building. 

“The danger factor is not getting less, the safety concerns are not less,” Pederson says. 

Both are hoping to make the building safe again, but also make it a place people want to be again. Poat says, 

“It really spoke to what I see as the hopefulness and sort of that expectation of great things that was part and parcel of the early to mid-60s,” Poat says. 

With this plan, the city would still need to worry about HVAC and other maintenance updates, but it would take care of these two immediate issues while still allowing them to work inside during construction.

A couple commissioners said they’re taking the time now to compare the plans for City Hall. The first quote was estimated at 15 million dollars, but they said the big picture is cost and what’s best for the city.

The city says with the new proposal, they’re still planning to stick to the original timeline. The deadline for bids is May 26.

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