Bartlett City Hall has a sleek new look with interior renovations to the lobby and board chamber room, replacing 30-year-old fixtures. City leaders hoped to have it completed in time for this Tuesday’s board meeting, but all the finishing touches weren’t quite complete. Recent meetings have been at Bartlett Station Municipal Center or the high school while construction has been underway.
The first sign of the $630,000 project is immediately evident when people walk into the building. The lobby’s massive fountain — which was never hooked up to a water line and was instead used as a seasonal display area — is gone after days of hard labor to break up the rebar-reinforced concrete. As of Friday, the former fountain’s area was still roped off, but Mayor Keith McDonald said the contractor will install terrazzo tiles to match the existing floor, opening up the entire space for the public’s use.
With this expanded space, the rotunda (circular central lobby) can serve as an overflow area for large city hall meetings when all seats fill up in the chamber room. An 80-inch flat-screen monitor mounted over the chamber door will let overflow visitors follow along with the meeting.
The lobby also now has a more secure glass-enclosed front desk where city employees can greet the public as they pay their water bills and ask for information.
Inside the chamber room, there’s no sign of the old red seat covering, nondescript carpeting, cramped dais space, light fixtures, the outdated pull-down projection screen or even the big city seal that once graced the wall over the heads of the city board.
McDonald described the room’s extensive reworking during a tour Friday afternoon while workers swarmed the area, putting in the finishing touches. The project included:
- A larger dais with an expanded semi-circular seating area and storage space for the mayor and aldermen. The reconfigured space has more room for the city’s leaders, and it allows the mayor easier visibility to each alderman during proceedings. The board’s space includes a new button system that aldermen can use to alert the mayor when they want to weigh in on a topic. The board also has a new voting system that will display their votes on the flat-screen monitors.
- New chairs for the mayor and board, including the replacement of one old chair notorious for tipping over.
- A reconfigured space for the city clerk, attorney and other Bartlett officials to sit in the space between the board and public seating.
- A revamped public area with recovered blue seats that have been newly tightened and repaired. One row of seats was removed to make room for the expanded dais.
- An improved audiovisual system that now includes four 80-inch monitors. Two are mounted high on the wall, facing the audience for improved visibility of slideshows, maps and other documents under discussion. Two others face the board for their use. McDonald said these will be particularly useful during meetings of the Planning Commission, which often needs to showcase plans for discussion.
- New light fixtures with LED bulbs that will be more energy efficient.
- No more interior visibility to the circular window etched with the city’s seal, formerly seen high on the wall behind the city board. McDonald explained that the decorative window is now lit and is still visible from the outside of City Hall. Previously, certain angles of sunlight made the window blinding for the chamber room’s audience and for City Hall employees whose offices faced the room.
- A large display of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” across the wall behind the board. McDonald said Bartlett’s leaders decided to take part in a movement of municipalities showing the motto. Displays at government buildings swelled after 2002, when a California city council approved a local display. The phrase first appeared in the national anthem in 1812 and is now pressed into all U.S. coins and printed on paper currency. Lawsuits have unsuccessfully challenged its usage since 1970, arguing that it violates the separation of church and state.
The City Hall project cost $500,000 for construction and another $130,000 for audiovisual improvements. McDonald said that he and the board hope to fund renovations to City Hall’s restrooms and the mayor’s office in next year’s budget.