City hall design contract passes despite public resistance

Paducah city commissioners accepted a proposal Tuesday night to work with the firm RATIO Architects in designing options to renovate or rebuild city hall. However, the up to $1.622 million design contract did not pass without resistance from the public.

Members from Growth Inc. packed city hall. The group is dedicated to economic development and historic preservation.

Representatives Sharon Poat and Anne Gwinn took the podium and explain their three main concerns with the contract. Those are: having significant public input early on in the process, assuring protection for the significant features of city hall’s atrium, and having RATIO put out a request for proposal (RFP) to find out different designs and actual costs for the canopy and seismic retrofit rather than have the engineer working with RATIO make estimates.

“We want to make sure that the rehabilitation plan that is considered is a good one, that it takes a fiscally responsible approach that fixes what needs to be fixed and makes this a good work place while respecting the architectural elements that make this such an interesting mid-century modern building,” Gwinn said.

Before approving the proposal without those changes to the contract, the city’s attorney told commissioners these requests are legally possible without amending the contract.

Mayor Gayle Kaler says she guarantees the public will have the ability to input and help through the process.

“We are not going deface, defame, tear down, or do any of that without lots of public input,” Kaler said.

Kaler talked about possibly creating a steering committee with members of the public to oversee the development of city hall.

RATIO will look at designing a facility that will include the departments currently in city hall and the possible addition of the information technology department. The scope does not include the addition of police or E911. 

Ratio expects to take 20 weeks to complete the design phase and the development of the final option. Then, RATIO would need another  20 weeks to prepare the construction documents, bid out the project, and initiate construction with construction to be completed in 2018. 

The city of Paducah also accepted an $8,113,110.42 contract bid with Mac Construction & Excavating, Inc. to develop the next phase of the riverfront project.

Commissioner Richard Abraham says he’s “excited about this project and getting it done." Commissioner Allan Rhodes voted against it, and Commissioner Carol Gault did not vote because of conflict of interest. 

This contract includes using the first deductive option, which removes 60 feet of the 400-foot transient dock. Phase I-b involves the completion of the park and the installation of the gangway and transient dock, in addition to boater amenities such as fuel, power, sewer pump outs, and water. The city has $5.15 million in grant funding and required city matching for the project. The extra costs will be funded through the issuance of a bond.   

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