Conceptual design puts ideas on paper for new City Hall

Sean C. Morgan

A conceptual floor plan for the new City Hall will feature open work areas for city staff, with easy access by members of the public.

The City Council’s Administration, Finance and Property Committee reviewed the plans on March 22, and the council was scheduled to review them during its regular meeting on March 28.

The city purchased the former Sweet Home Ranger District office building, 3225 Main St., for $750,000 last year with plans to use it as a new City Hall. According to city staff, the current City Hall, built in 1954, at 1140 12th Ave., is deteriorating.

Finance Director Pat Gray said the city has approximately $300,000 saved for renovations in its building reserve fund.

When architect Sid Scott and his staff were in Sweet Home, they interviewed staff and observed work flow at City Hall to understand how to design the floor plan, City Manager Ray Towry said.

The concept plan shows a public entrance at the front of the building. The front parking lot has about a dozen parking spaces available. Staff will park in back and enter through the west side.

People entering the building will see a pair of windows to utility billing and to planning and building services, Towry said. “The goal really is, as a member of the public, you come to one space, tell them what you’re there for and staff comes to you.”

To the left of the entrance, two conference rooms will be available in which members of the public can meet with staff.

The conference rooms will have computers and monitors that will allow staff members to access their files as needed when they meet with members of the public, Towry said.

The new building will provide additional meeting space for community groups as well, Gray said.

To the right of the entrance is a door to the staff area. Inside is a copy machine and access to the building, engineering and planning work areas.

In the center of the building, behind utility billing, are work areas for office staff, a meeting room and offices for the city manager, city manager’s assistant and finance director.

A hallway leads east past the two conference rooms and a mechanical room to one entrance to the Council Chamber and an auxiliary hall and exit.

The main hallway turns right to access public restrooms and another entrance to the Council Chamber. The chamber would be 1,151 square feet, around twice the size of the current Council Chamber. The room can be partitioned into three rooms.

At the end of the hallway is a door to access staff areas, including storage, staff restrooms and a break room.

The building includes an unused space on the east side of the building, beyond the Council Chamber.

The council’s goal is to form a partnership with another organization and provide that space to the partner in order to facilitate cooperation between the two organizations, Towry said. Councilors have discussed a lot of possibilities, including for example, offices for the Sweet Home Economic Development Group or a health clinic.

“The goal throughout the design process was to bring staff together to help with the free flow of information between departments,” he said. That helps prevent the organization from operating in “silos” and promotes cross pollination of information.

That concept applies to department heads too.

Separate offices will have windows that open to the central work areas, Gray said. For privacy, blinds may be closed.

Some staff will remain at different buildings in the city, including the Public Works director, who, until last year, had been at the current City Hall for years.

The Public Works director’s main office will remain at the Public Works facility off 24th Avenue, Towry said, but the meeting space will serve as an office space for personnel from visiting department heads and other city staff as needed.

Towry said he has no estimate for moving to the new City Hall yet. It will depend on cost estimates.

“If they come out favorable, we look to go out and bid it,” Towry said. If not, the city will have to consider alternatives for funding.

The council is planning to sell the former Public Works and Water Treatment Plant facilities off 9th Avenue to add to available funds for the project.

To save money on the project, the city will do whatever work it can in house, Towry said, and some councilors believe that some members of the public may be willing to donate labor and materials. But all that’s still subject to cost estimates, he said.

“I’d love to say we’d be in there this time next year,” he said. “That’s a reasonable goal.”