Paducah city leaders now have the designs needed to decide on the future of city hall. RATIO Architects presented two complete designs at a commission meeting Tuesday night.
Rehabilitation would include stabilizing the existing canopy. The commission chambers would be moved to the first floor. The first floor would also incorporate glass dividers between departments to improve communication and functionality.
The new city hall design would be four stories. It would be built adjacent to the current city hall, facing Dolly McNutt Memorial Plaza. It places the busiest areas in spots that receive the most natural light. RATIO says they're not copying the existing city hall building, but complimenting it by using materials like stone, metal panels, and glass on the exterior.
The report also includes concerns from departments. For general government, the commission chamber concerns include the screen being inappropriately placed behind commission members. Many times during meetings they have to move out of the way to see it. They also reported it can be hard to hear commissioners if you're sitting toward the back of the room.
The Finance department pointed out their setup is sometimes awkward. Public visitors sit looking down onto employees’ computers. The revenue technician and revenue auditor could benefit from a more private work space. They work on taxes and other personal information that they do not want exposed to anyone who could walk by and see what is on their desk or screens. They’re in an open work station now.
City leaders agreed Tuesday night that RATIO presented everything they were asked to regarding rehabilitating or rebuilding city hall. Commissioner Richard Abraham said he likes that both options put the chamber downstairs, making it multi-functional.
“We have to decide which option we want to go and, once we decide it, how are we going to do that option,” Abraham said.
Commissioner Allan Rhodes says they picked the right design team and he's happy with the outcomes.
No one spoke in favor of a certain choice, but Mayor Gayle Kaler and Commissioner Sandra Wilson agreed abandoning the existing city hall building is not an option.
“It would be very difficult to walk away from this building unless we found an owner that wanted to use this for something grander than a city hall. For some kind of — you know, we are a UNESCO city — if it was something arts related,” Wilson said.
Wilson says the rehabilitating design provides a vision instead of settling on fixing spots just because they need it.
“I think we have to look at our budget and how much money do we have. Where is that money coming from?,” Kaler said.
Kaler said she feels doing the project in phases is the way to go.
“When you think of phasing it in, are you going to have an elevated cost over the next 15 to 20 years? Will those plans that you came up with today, will they still be relevant?,” Kaler said.
RATIO also presented preliminary cost estimates. Rehabilitating comes out to $18 million and includes the cost of temporarily relocating staff during construction.
Rebuilding costs an estimated $18.5 million. That includes $590,000 to stabilize the current city hall building.
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Paducah, KY 42003