City hall has received a major facelift. Petersburg borough employees and the local police department this month have been moving into the newly renovated municipal building on Nordic Drive and will be open for business at that site on Monday, February 27th.
The first of two phases of the 6.6-million dollar renovation project is coming to a close as construction workers address last minute items and borough staffers move into the new space. Crews started work on the building last May and have improved the overall look of the nearly 60-year-old building.
At peak around 40 workers have been on the job and the crews have been working seven days a week including holidays and some nights to get the job finished.
“The entry’s attractive,” said Marty Susort, the borough’s onsite construction administrator, during a recent walk-through. “They got a nice stairway and handrail, it’s a glass handrail. It’s appearance is pleasant and of course everything is new. So when you come in here walls are all white instead of dirty white. The carpets are new. The girls got great desks. You’ll be able to see those through the reception area. The police department pretty much takes up the whole downstairs. So that’s pretty much blocked off.”
For the public, there’s a new reception area on the second floor to pay bills and do other business with the finance office or administration. Those offices are all in the space that once housed the old city library. And for people not wanting to take the stairs, there’s a new elevator in service.
The assembly chambers is updated with new windows, carpet and paint and a new sound system. The planning and zoning commission was the first to meet in that new space and the borough assembly will have their first meeting there on Monday the 27th. For people attending meetings, the sound system has not been finished in that room; there’s no sound from the microphones to the speakers in the room yet. But the microphones work for KFSK’s broadcasts and the live stream and archive on the borough’s website.
The project has meant new siding on the building, new windows and doors, and a new roof surface. Despite that the building still had one leak show up during cold weather this winter. “We had one leak right here in the assembly room,” Susort said. “And they had the roofers come back and see if they could find it and they patched a few questionable areas. They fixed the leak and hopefully that’s the end of it.”
Besides that issue, Susort said the new siding was one of the challenges for the builders. “It’s an attractive siding detail but there was a lot of pieces in it. It took quite a while for them to figure it out and get the flashings bent right. Making all the windows work. If you look at the front of the building it’s window wall corner to corner and those had to fit exactly in the places they were intended.”
A lot of the work in the building was done in areas the public will not see, from the new heating and air conditioning, to the electronic brains of the new borough, in the new computer server room.
Borough finance and administration staff have been working the last year out of rented space in the Petersburg Indian Association’s building on 12 Street. Those employees planned to move their work spaces on Thursday and Friday and re-open in the newly renovated building on Monday, February 27th. Police officers and dispatchers were getting set up in their new space this month. For people with business at the police department there’s a more spacious waiting area off Nordic Drive, near where the old station entrance was. The building sports four new prefabricated steel jail cells installed along with two holding cells. Those cells already held their first prisoner Wednesday with the arrest of a 49-year-old local man on a domestic violence assault charge.
Meanwhile the old police station hasn’t changed in appearance. That side of the building is the second phase of the work and Susort said the work will be happening this spring. “There’s some asbestos removal. A subcontractor has to come in and remove the asbestos before they demo(lish) that area. They’ll be working on siding and some punch list items and some trim and they’re cutting some concrete walls out that area so they have enough to keep a few of them busy. But right now there’s only going to be two people, the supervisor and the laborer.”
Construction crews already removed asbestos material from the renovated portion of the building last year and replaced much of the concrete floor where the old borough offices were. That work still has to happen in the old police station space. That area will become a vehicle sally port for the police. The completion date for that portion of the work is June 12th. With the cost of design, rent, moving, new furnishings and communications equipment the overall price tag for the project is expected to be close to 10 million dollars.