Despite the fact that the architecture’s drawings for the city council chamber revisions bear a curious resemblance to the Titanic’s deck plan, on Jan. 12 the council signaled “full steam ahead” with the construction work.
The idea is to turn the room into a multi-use performance space. The acoustics will be improved, the noisy and outdated HVAC (heating, venting, air conditioning) machine will be removed, the council podium will be replaced with one that can be removed, the seats will be replaced, there will be a new projection system, and the stage will be rebuilt.
When they are done, the room will not only be greatly improved for once-a-week council meetings, but it can be put to other uses the rest of the week. The primary use will be for spoken word events: council and other meetings, poetry readings, lectures, film, and music. It could be used for student dance recitals as well, but the stage will not be a professional dance floor. Last on the list of uses is theater. The space does not have a backstage adequate to support a full production.
Councilmember Terry Seamens was opposed to this plan when first proposed. He didn’t like the price tag and he didn’t like how it made the council look – renovating the council chambers when they had failed to build the gym they’d promised to citizens.
Seamens has been dragged most of the way on board the ship with the rest of the council, however. He’s been assured that the money is all coming from grants, not the city’s coffers, and that the grants could not be used for any other project.
The rest of the council is keen to keep the spending down on the renovation, too. Mayor Bruce Williams put himself in tongue-tied agony trying obliquely to ask the architects whether it would be cheaper to ditch the “green” designs.
The architects held firm to obtaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, however. They said that the extra cost was worth it for the experience. The city staff will eventually have to go through the certification process on future projects, they said. They claimed that since this is such a small, manageable project, it will be good preparation for them.
Lifeboats were not discussed.
PS. Yesterday, the council had an unusual mid-week meeting due to the Monday holiday and the Tuesday presidential inauguration. The citiizen-proposed leaf-blower ban was discussed, among other things. Your Gilbert will post a report tomrrow. Watch this space!.