CAMANCHE — Members of the Camanche community and city council have begun looking into what should be done with the current city hall.
“We need to do something. The question is what?” Camanche City Administrator Tom Roth said during a committee meeting Tuesday night.
The first step was identifying what problems exist in the current city hall and if they could be addressed by renovating the location. The committee created a list of priorities to have an architect look over, give an opinion if they are feasible in the building and formulate estimated cost.
The committee -- composed of Councilman Trevor Willis, Councilman Gregg Nelson, Joe Carstensen, Bob Edens, Brian McKenrick, Ray Gruever and Kim Stoll -- toured the building Tuesday night, with Roth pointing out some of the problems. He felt the building is marginally functional at best.
“Functionality is most important to me, because when we’re done we have to have something that meets our needs,” Roth said.
One of the biggest problems pointed out during the tour was the building’s layout. Mayor Ken Fahlbeck was concerned by the location of Roth’s office. He felt Roth’s office should be away from the door, so he was not disturbed as often. City Clerk Sheryl Jindrich and Roth did not like how closed off the clerk’s office is. Roth said if someone was causing problems in Jindrich’s office, he might not even know it. Roth also felt council chambers should be larger.
Roth and Jindrich told the committee that the building is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The employees run five electric space heaters in the winter. Fahlbeck pointed out the gaps at the base boards. Edens noted that the windows are part of the problem.
Another major issue that Fahlbeck pointed out are cracks in the all of the blocks in the exterior of the building. Councilman Gary Kampe looked into tuckpointing to fix the problem a few years ago. Fahlbeck said the cost was quite expensive. He pointed out that the topic of city hall has been discussed before, but nothing has been done due to cost or because the city had too many projects on its plate at the time.
“We’ve shoved it off to the side and here we are today,” Fahlbeck said.
Other issues that came up were the lack of storage, the asbestos in some of the flooring, code issues and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues. Roth felt the committee also had to consider the aesthetics of city hall.
“We don’t have to have Shangri-La, but I don’t think it ought to be something we’re ashamed of and I think this building is getting to that point quite honestly,” Roth said. “If you come in from out of town and this is your first impression of Camanche, you’re not going to leave with a real favorable one, I don’t think.”
Carstensen felt one of the things in favor for the city hall is the location. He did not want to see it moved to the other side of the railroad tracks like the fire and police departments were. Jindrich disagreed, saying many people tell her that they do not know where city hall is. McKenrick pointed out this could be because it does not look like a city hall.
The committee agreed to ask the architect about ways to make the council chambers larger, update the heating and cooling systems, have a more functional layout and address the condition of the exterior walls. They also wanted information on the condition of the roof. Making the building ADA compliant, improving the windows and the entrance and adding a kitchenette and break room were other points to bring to the architect.
The committee is looking into other possible locations. However, everyone agreed that before considering a new location, they need to know if the current building can be renovated to meet the city’s needs for a reasonable cost.
The committee will meet again on May 22 if the architect has all of the information ready at that time.