City officials expressed relief and excitement Sunday that the public finally was getting the chance to see the building.
“You are going to have some kicking and screaming with any project of this magnitude,” said City Commissioner Jamey Gay. “But I think that people can see that this is a building that will continue to serve the people of this city for many years.” The new building is more spacious than the old city hall, which consisted of about 16,000 square feet of space.
Stansbury said city administration occupies about 7,500 feet of new finished space, with roughly the same amount of space in the basement remaining unoccupied.
The police department, which moved from the building it shared with the fire department, occupies about 15,000 square feet in the new building.
One of the tour guides Sunday was Police Chief Jay Newell, who pointed out the many new features of what he said is a state-of-the-art facility.
Newell said the new layout provides increased security and the ability to separate functions that once were conducted in a single small room.
“Security is the most important thing,” Newell said. “We used to have people actually wandering back through the police department. Overall, it is just a much better environment for the officers. It has areas constructed with specific duties in mind. It was designed with policing in mind, whereas the other building was pressed into accommodating police work.”
Newell said one of the things that was virtually impossible with the old building was working with confidential informants, who could not be brought in or out of the old structure without being easily spotted. Now people can be brought in through the secure sally port in the back.
Newell said the new building also will be helpful in recruiting officers, particularly during the current push to hire several new officers.
“Nobody of similar size has a facility like this,” Newell said. “The people from other departments I’ve been able to take through so far have been very impressed.”
Stansbury said public safety was the driving force behind the push for a new facility.
On the city side of the building, Stansbury noted that the layout moves the commission chambers up to the front of the building which can be seen from the outside and from the lobby of the building.
“The commission chambers are no longer the back room of city hall,” Stansbury said. “I think it is important that the commission’s room, where the people’s business is conducted, is now out front where people can see it.”
Stansbury hopes the music and community spirit on display Sunday will be a harbinger of things to come for the new building and the more open area in front. He said the building can serve as a setting for many civic events in the future.