By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
— It hasn’t changed for almost 30 years, but Tuesday the renovation of Kokomo’s City Hall started in earnest.
Colored panels, to be complimented later by a stainless steel decorative border, were being applied to the red brick exterior of the building. New landscaping and tuck-pointing work will accompany the exterior’s new look.
In about a month, the interior of the building will start to change.
City engineer Carey Stranahan said a new interior staircase will be installed as part of a transformation of the building’s central atrium and public meeting rooms.
All of the theater seats will be taken out of the Kokomo Common Council chambers and replaced with seats that can be moved or removed as needed.
The flooring and lighting in the council room will be changed, and the city clerk’s office will be moved into the council chamber, creating more room in the atrium, as well as space for a vestibule just outside the council room.
“The whole idea is about taking pride in our public spaces,” Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said. “We’ve built three new fire stations in the last 6 1/2 years, and we’ve renovated two others. We’ve made other improvements in our streets and our parks. And City Hall is nearly 30 years old, so it’s getting a little sprucing up as well.”
Goodnight said the improvements are all meant to make Kokomo more attractive in hopes of bringing in new residents.
There’s recent evidence that the strategy is working. This month, preliminary U.S. Census figures showed Kokomo has gained residents since the 2010 census, a fact which defies Indiana University researchers’ predictions of a population loss.
Mawr Design, which has an office in Kokomo, did the design work for both the interior and exterior projects. Monroe Construction, Kokomo, was the sole bidder on the exterior project at $569,000.
The Kokomo Board of Public Works & Safety is expected to open bids today on the interior work. That project is scheduled to begin next month and be completed this year.
In addition to the council chamber and the atrium staircase, the work will also include a glass exhibit case to replace the tinted windows which currently separate the Kokomo Police Department from the atrium.
The atrium will get new flooring, and new wall coverings will brighten up the bulkheads from the ground floor all the way up to the central skylight.
The Robert Louks conference room on the first floor will be renovated, and the entryway to the conference room will become a double door in an attempt to be a bit more inviting to the public.
Finally, the solid wall separating the council chamber from the atrium will be replaced with glass paneling, something that might be of special benefit if the city council ever hosts a meeting with an overflow crowd.
The massive desk the council members sit behind won’t change, but the curtains behind the desk will be removed. City officials are planning some kind of a mural, with scenes from Kokomo, as the new backdrop.
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org