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Paducah seeks input on City Hall

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

Over the next three to four weeks, the Paducah City Commission seeks to create a citizen-based "think tank" as it considers renovating or replacing City Hall.

Commissioners talked Tuesday with City Manager Jeff Pederson about the next steps for the future of the 50-year-old structure on South Fifth Street.

The commission wants feedback in regard to renovation versus rebuilding, the location of a possible new city hall, and its overall design.

"One way to do that," Pederson said, "is the formation of some kind of work group that could provide information and recommendations to the City Commission."

The small group of staff and citizens will be known as the "City Hall 2050 Working Group." The commission will make the final decision, Pederson said, but "it is the public's building."

About two weeks ago, the commission heard an assessment report by two engineering firms - Bacon, Farmer and Workman, and Marcum - and architectural design firm Peck, Flannery, Gream, and Warren concerning the building's structural, layout and security needs.

The preliminary cost of renovation was estimated at $13 million. Baccus Oliver, an engineer with Marcum, offered a $10 million estimate for a new building.

"It's a big decision. It's an important decision for the city and a major investment either way we go," Pederson said."We have some real issues that are motivating us to move forward."

The roof, HVAC system, plumbing, chiller and boiler systems, and fire alarm system all need significant upgrades, and much of the 61,000-square-foot facility isn't being used to its potential.

As the city deliberates, officials must also think about customer accommodation, layout and security as well as cost, Pederson said.

"As we advance further into the electronic age, we need to design a city hall not just for today, but one for decades down the road," Pederson said. Hence, the name City Hall 2050.

Commissioner Richard Abraham praised Pederson for "looking ahead" to technology and improved customer service.

"It's a large expenditure.  We need the public's input," said Commissioner Sandra Wilson. She also asked for a timeline for the study group.

"It is not a simple process," Pederson noted. "We want to neither be lacking in public input or moving at a snail's pace ... We need to be in action mode."

Pederson estimated the process could take six months once the panel's members are named.

"Six months would be the top end," he said. "Renovation or rebuilding: It is the key decision moving forward."

 Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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