City Hall renovation plan draws mixed feelings

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A planned $6.1 million renovation to Pearland’s City Hall complex met a snag Monday, when city council postponed the item.

“We’ve got other projects in the city we need to spend this money on if we’re going to spend it,” Councilman Tony Carbone said. “I’ve had issue with this, which shouldn’t surprise anybody. I still don’t like it.”

Staff has recommended the construction contract be awarded to Pearland-based Construction Masters of Houston Inc., with $214,000 coming from the city’s fund balance.

The 30-year-old City Hall and its annex has been the subject of discussion in recent years, with the city looking into various options including relocating.

“Back when we built this building, we never thought we would have the employee requirements we do,” Mayor Reid said. “I think we can have something that can give us another 30 to 40 more years.

“Security has been a real challenge for us,” he said. “We have a lot of things we need to do to bring it up to where we would be if we built it today.”

Under the plan, City Hall would be reconfigured with space added and improvements done to electrical, plumbing and lighting, as well as security access for both buildings.
A restoration was done of the interior after Hurricane Ike, but no significant work has been done on the complex in its life span, assistant City Manager Trent Epperson said.

“This project will meet the major needs of the city hall complex at this point,” he told the council, referring to issues such as space and security.

Also, several departments that operate out of different areas of the buildings would be moved adjacent to one another to work more efficiently, he said.

“I feel like we could spend this money in other places,” Perez said. “But I feel like if we’re going to do it, we need to do all of it. Get it done with and make sure we have everything we need so we’re done with this building for the next 30 or 40 years.”

Perez had concerns, though, about the message that some of the security plans might send to citizens, particularly by having the upper floors sealed off from the public.
“It seems kind of impersonal,” Councilman Greg Hill agreed.

Council couldn’t seem to agree Monday on spending the funds on the renovation.

“I feel like we’re too far down the rabbit hole to scrap it now,” Perez said, referring to money spent on design. “In three years, it’s probably going to be 20 percent more expensive.”

The item will come up for a vote on a future council agenda.

Story by Nicole Jones

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