By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — Most home and business owners wouldn’t go almost 30 years without doing some remodeling, but municipal buildings aren’t often spotlighted for spending.
Since it was built in 1984, Kokomo city hall had undergone no major remodeling efforts until this year.
With Monday’s dedication of the Stephen J. Daily Government Center, the first phase of giving city hall a new look has been completed.
Inside, there’s a staircase in the main lobby; new, more open Kokomo Common Council chambers; and updated flooring and wall decorations. Outside, the building has been given a facelift and visitors are greeted by a new fountain and sculpture.
The first phase cost an estimated $1.3 million.
Mayor Greg Goodnight has budgeted $500,000 to spend in 2014 remodeling the second and third floors and replacing the two elevators.
“I talked about the remodeling in my ‘State of the City’ speech in 2012,” Goodnight said. “The problem is the building is almost 30 years old and had not really received any upgrades over that time.”
Curtains in the mayor’s third floor office and most of the furniture are original to the building.
“We started with the outside and the council chambers,” Goodnight said. “We wanted to fix up the public spaces.
“Most people see the outside of city hall, visitors, guests to the city and people who don’t come into the offices,” he said. “We wanted to make the outside looked nice.”
People from all over the world have visited city hall, Goodnight said, and many public meetings and events take place in the council chambers.
Gone are the solid wood doors that closed off the council chambers.
“We wanted to put in glass doors,” Goodnight said. “It shows a little more transparency. Make sure people could see what was taking place.”
The office of the city clerk was relocated to an area directly off the council chambers.
Goodnight said there was no public staircase in the original city hall, forcing everyone to use the elevators.
He said one of the elevators was out of service for several weeks, waiting on repair parts, and that meant everyone had to use one elevator.
“We didn’t have a plan B if both elevators were out of service,” he said. “There are employee stairs. This gives people the opportunity to use the stairs and promotes a healthier work environment.”
Goodnight said the design and construction were done using a local architect and construction company.
“They used a lot of local subcontractors,” he said. “The money predominately, if not all of it, stayed in the community.”
The second phase of the remodeling will again focus on the public spaces. Changes will be made to conference rooms and some new furniture will be purchased.
“Whatever we spend should last for 15 or 20 years,” Goodnight said. “This is the most visible public building in the city.”
Goodnight said the second phase is needed to make the project look complete.
The entire cost of the project was paid for with available funds.
“We’ve tried to clean up streets, thoroughfares and parks,” Goodnight said. “We have three fire stations that are less than six years old. We’ve remodeled two others and have plans for Station 6 in 2014.
“We’re taking pride in the public spaces,” he said.