City Council approves $217,000 for City Hall construction

September 2, 2011

By Christina Lords

With construction in full swing, the future home of Newcastle’s City Hall is starting to take shape.

Improvements to the second floor of the Newcastle Professional Center are on schedule, and city staff should be able to move into the new location by mid-October, City Manager Rob Wyman said.

“It’s framed out, so you can really start to get a feel for what it’s going to look like in there,” he said.

Express Construction Inc. was awarded the City Hall tenant improvements contract to install new walls and other framing, City Council chambers, electrical wiring, a fire suppression system, conference rooms and office space for city staff.

Express Construction is the same company that completed construction on the building in 2007, which will help streamline the new improvements, Wyman said.

The city has been at its 13020 Newcastle Way location for 15 years. Its new location at 12835 Newcastle Way is just two-tenths of a mile away.

The contract for more than $217,000 in construction costs was approved by the Newcastle City Council at its Aug. 1 meeting.

The construction phase of the project is anticipated to be complete by Oct. 7. The city hopes to be operational in the new facility by Oct. 15.

The total project is expected to cost the city about $250,000.

Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said the new location will provide additional space for officers assigned to the county to file reports from Newcastle.

“We’ll be joined by eight unincorporated patrol deputies and one detective,” she said. “The detective that will be working there will be covering Newcastle and two adjacent districts. I am thrilled that we’re bringing on a detective that will be working in our office.”

The deputies will be able to bring in evidence, file paperwork, receive mail and make daily trips to City Hall, she said.

“No one can complain about that,” Irvine said. “We’ll take the extra visibility.”

Wyman said the city aims to make the move as seamless as possible to the public with minimal disruption to city services.

The city will take about two days to move its existing furniture to use in the new space.

“At some point you do have to shut the phone off and move it over there, so there will be a gap there,” he said.

While the location is about 500 square feet smaller than the city’s current space above Newport Manufacturing, the more visually appealing space will still provide adequate room for city business, Wyman said.

“The benefit I see is that we’re going to have a much better chance to interact with the public,” he said. “You get a lot of people who pass through there for other uses and we’re hoping that people will just pop up to see what’s going on.”

The city will be able to use signage in the lobby to promote events and public meetings that discuss important town business, Wyman said.

The City Council voted 4-3 Feb. 1 to approve the lease to move to the professional center, with council members Bill Erxleben, Rich Crispo and Carol Simpson dissenting.

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