The seal of the City of Hutchinson has been taken down and leans against a glass partition. The Council’s dais has been ripped out. The audio/visual equipment has been removed, and things are nearly ready for construction workers to move in and begin work on the final stage of the renovation of City Hall.
The City Council won’t be back in City Hall until sometime in November. In the meantime, they’ll be meeting at the Fire Command and Training Center at 3201 E. Fourth Ave.
Over the next two-plus months, workers will replace the straight council dais, which was along the south wall, with a curved dais along the east wall of the council chambers. The new dais will allow council members to see each other better, and the reorientation of the room means that those coming and going won’t have to disrupt council meetings in the future. The entrance in the west wall will be at the back of the room, instead of at the side, which caused people to walk between the Council and the audience.
The reconfiguration — including moving the audio/video control station into an addition being built adjacent to the chambers — also will expand seating from about 35 to 60 visitors.
Another addition being built beyond the east wall of the chambers will serve as conference room for executive sessions, a meeting room for advisory boards that meet after City Hall’s usual closing time and a storm shelter to protect city employees and the public. The meeting room will have its own exit into the parking lot, so that the rest of city hall can be locked up for the night.
The cinderblock walls on the additions have been erected, but for a roof so far they have only steel support beams.
The project will cost about $250,000.
The move to the Fire Command and Training Center also means that live broadcasts of council meetings on Cable Channel 7 will be temporarily suspended until the Council returns to its renovated chambers. The city’s IT staff will continue to record the meetings, which will be broadcast on a delay at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 2 p.m. on Sunday’s following meetings. The Council will continue to meet the first and third Tuesday’s of every month.