The upcoming work to the city administration building is tentatively set to begin Oct. 19 and is planned to improve conditions in the municipal courtroom, which will one day be home to the Canton City Council meetings, said Mark Robillard, the Canton-based architect leading the project.
The construction is planned to take 90 days and will cost $758,414, which will come from the city’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds. The City Council approved the project last Thursday.
Before the city of Canton purchased the building on Elizabeth Street in 2005, the municipal courtroom served as the building for meetings, said Mark Robillard, the Canton-based architect leading the project.
But for years, issues have been mounting in the room, and many say it is now in a state of disrepair.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said since the city purchased the building, some issues have been corrected, but others like the asbestos still in room and water damage to the ceiling, have not.
“When they purchased that building, they did a lot of renovation on the inside of the building, but they didn’t put a new roof on it,” Hobgood said. “There was some water damage that came in. The (roof) apparently leaked for a long, long time.”
Robillard said the issues with the roof have been corrected, but the water damage remains and the entire ceiling will be replaced as a result. The project will also put in energy efficient lighting, new carpet and a new sound system, Robillard said.
Much of the work being done is hoped to get the space ready for the Canton City Council to begin having its meetings there. The City Council now meets on the third floor of City Hall, but Hobgood said the room isn’t ideal.
“Right now, we’ve got so many problems in the council chambers,” he said.
Hobgood said those problems are mostly based on the experience of the meetings for the residents in attendance, who often have trouble seeing and hearing the members of the council.
“A lot of times, people can’t really hear unless you lean forward and speak into that microphone,” he said.
To fix that issue, the former sanctuary will be getting a “pretty big electronics package,” Robillard said. It will also have a big-screen television installed.
When the City Council approved the project last week, Councilman Hooky Huffman was the lone councilman to vote against it.
But Huffman said Thursday he is “all for” renovating the courtroom.
“I just thought the price was high,” he said. “I’ll be glad to see it done. It’ll be beautiful.”
Huffman said the city had recently gotten a lower, renegotiated price for the construction with some corners cut, but the council chose to go with the higher price and not spend much time discussing the cheaper alternative.
Even if the council chose in the end to go forward with the higher bill, Huffman said the alternative should have been discussed at least to the extent that the councilmen talked about what to do with the city’s portable stage.
“We couldn’t make a decision on the stage,” Huffman said of the City Council’s almost 30-minute talk on the stage last Thursday, which yielded little resolution. “But boy, we didn’t want to discuss the (money) we just voted on.”