Bluffdale Breaks Ground for New City Hall on Park Property
Apr 08, 2016 09:20AM
● By Tori La Rue
By Tori La Rue | [email protected]
South Valley - For the first time since 2003, Bluffdale City administration will work together under one roof on a daily basis.
The city officially broke ground for a $6.6 million, three-floor, 36,000 square-foot city hall on March 11. The building is being built over part of the Bluffdale City Park directly across the parking lot from the Bluffdale City Fire Station at 14350 South 2200 West.
Members of the city administration currently work out of three buildings: the Bluffdale City Courthouse, an office building next to the courthouse and the fire station. These employees will move their offices to the new municipal center when it opens, Mayor Derk Timothy said.
“I don’t think that the public realizes that we are just getting by over here,” Timothy said. “We want to work together, but it’s hard coming from different buildings.”
Elected members of the administration don’t have any office space, and the city’s planning and engineering departments are in different buildings, even though they are supposed to be in a state of constant collaboration, Timothy said.
The phone systems don’t transfer across buildings, so it’s not easy for the administration to transfer residents’ phone calls, and there’s confusion about which building should be used for what. Residents often arrive at the wrong buildings to pay their fines or find out about city happenings, he said.
The fire station houses the majority of the city’s administration, but, according to Timothy, it’s getting overcrowded.
“We tore a bathroom out of the fire station to make an office because we needed it,” Timothy said. “I feel like we are kind of undoing the fire station’s purpose. The city hall really is a need.”
Most of the building houses city administrators, like the city recorder and city manager. The police force claims three cubicles. Timothy said he wants the fire station to be a place for public safety officials only.
Bluffdale contracts with the Saratoga Springs Police Department right now, but when space opens up in the fire station after administration is established in the city hall, the city can look into self-providing.
City officials sent letters to each household in Bluffdale, inviting them to come to an open house where the city hall would be discussed, Timothy said. Three plans were on display, with features and price estimates showing.
“We didn’t want to do the cheapest-looking city hall that would be more of a temporary fix, but we also didn’t want to create some sort of Taj Mahal,” Timothy said. “We wanted the residents to help us decide what to do.”
The residents’ choice was a modern municipal center. This style was the most expensive of the three options in square footage, but the style of a roof was changed to a flat rather than pitched roof, which saved $150,000.
City staff members and a citizen committee planned the interior. One major feature is a dual-use room that’s been orchestrated to accommodate the city council and the city court. The courtroom is up to state regulations, and, according to Timothy, it will be safer for the public and employees and more comfortable for the accused parties.
The city already owned the park property and utilities in the area. They didn’t need to build a road or parking lot to the new building, since they are piggybacking off of the fire station.
“I’ve asked people about taking up room in the park, but after I tell them it saved us over a million dollars, I only hear positive feedback,” Timothy said.
However, resident Bryan Larson voiced concerns.
“Logistically that spot might make a lot of sense, and I suspect they’ve done some study on that area, but not nearly enough,” Larson said. “It’s going to be a shame to see them cut up that city park. It once was nice and big.”
Although he doesn’t like the idea of losing part of the city park, Larson said it might be the best place for the city hall, but he doesn’t know because he hasn’t been given enough information. Larson said he wishes the city would have gathered more input from residents and explained why the building of a city hall is necessary.
“Sticking a little announcement in a water bill is not nearly enough. No one pays attention to snail mail anymore, and hardly anyone attends their meetings,” he said. “A proposal for a new city hall deserves to get people’s attention.”
Larson said the city could have put up banners in the city park with info about the open-house meetings because it would have attracted attention.
“Maybe had I attended the meetings, this would have been explained, but I’ve been in a lot of cities and my experience is that someone gets a hair-brained idea without a thorough examination of all alternatives,” he said.
Larson said there’s nothing that he can do about the city hall anymore because it’s already underway, but he hopes that Bluffdale will consider alternative ways to get information to residents in the future.
The Bluffdale Municipal Center is scheduled for completion in summer 2017.