City Hall plans to be reviewed Tuesday
Whiteville officials will get a look at another proposal for the new City Hall in a special meeting Tuesday, July 11 at 4 p.m.
The 1937-38 Horace Whitley Municipal Building started out as a U.S. Post Office, but a major mold problem in the structure caused the city to close the structure in 2015 and move to temporary quarters in Hill Plaza. City council voted earlier this year to demolish the old city hall and either sell or tear down an adjoining house owned by the city.
The new building will be erected on the same site at Columbus and Madison streets. Council also approved a plan to spend up to $2.5 million on the new structure, using a combination of a loan, savings in other areas and a property tax increase dedicated to the project. Removing the mold and lead contamination, expanding and stabilizing the original City Hall was estimated at more than $3 million.
Organic material used to caulk windows and joints deteriorated through the decades, allowing moisture to seep inside the basement of the building. Early attempts to dry and pump the basement failed, and the planning/inspections and other offices were moved to another building downtown. The city continued to try to seal the basement as a temporary measure, but the mold eventually got to the point that customers were having allergic reactions as they entered the building on warm days.
City Manager Darren Currie said Oakley Architects will update the council Tuesday on the fi rm’s progress on the new structure.
“Now that we have a plan in place for the money, we can start making some progress,” he said.
Oakley’s first draft offering to the council was met with criticism, although the firm’s representatives stressed the draft was just a preliminary suggestion.
Much of Tuesday’s discussion with the council will focus on the interior of the new building, Currie said. The firm has met with staff in the finance, utilities and planning/inspections department to identify better ways to move customers into and through those areas, which are generally the busiest of the city offices, Currie said.
“Colburn (Brown, the fi nance officer) and the staff have really been working hard on this,” he said. “The rest of us have to catch up, but the places where the most traffic comes through need the most attention. Other areas that don’t have as many customers coming in can follow along.”
The municipal building will be the first step in an expanded complex for the city offices, including more parking and additional access. A start date has not been set for the building project.
By Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter