New city hall unlikely but security renovations in the works

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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During the LaGrange City Council work session on Tuesday morning, the council discussed potential security renovations at City Hall.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said the city engaged an architectural firm to help design what additional security within city hall might look like. The proposed plans would separate public areas at city hall from private offices within.

Security adjustments have been in the works for years. Kelsey recommended moving forward with these changes with a potential build for the project in the spring,

The changes were estimated to cost in the $500,000 range.

Assistant City Manager Bill Bulloch gave an overview of the potential changes during the morning work session.

Under the plans, the front entrance area of city hall on the second floor would remain open to the public as well as the utilities customer service area downstairs. The remainder of the building would be secured using magnetic locks, where visitors can be buzzed in or escorted to where they need to go.

Human resources, which is currently right inside the front door on the left would be moved to an inner part of the building and replaced with a small conference area.

“They have a lot of issues with people coming in and out while they’re trying to do HR-type work and having to direct people,” Bulloch said. “We moved them to a back conference room … They’ve got a place for their files that are in a little more secure area.”

When visitors come in, they can just go to the reception window and say who they are there to see and the receptionist would call and have someone come down and escort them further inside.

“We have had a lot of problems with people just coming in. Patrick [Bowie] has actually had people just sitting in his office when he comes back from lunch, and he’s got all this stuff on his desk. I’ve had the same problem. A lot of us have. It kind of just keeps people from coming in unescorted into the building,” Bulloch said.

The receptionist will have a button where they can open the door that goes further into the building that allows people in and out. The door to the city manager and clerk’s office will also be moved behind the secured area as well, Bulloch said.

As for downstairs, the utility customer service area will remain open to the public as well as the restrooms, but the stairs and elevator will require key card access or someone will need to buzz people in.

The plan is to put cameras at the elevators so that reception can verify and buzz in the people who need to use the elevator. There will be a card reader there as well, Bulloch said.

Councilman Nathan Gaskin questioned spending the money to renovate now if there were any plans to build a new City Hall. 

“We’ve already committed to the next SPLOST so that would be at least another six-plus years out,” Kelsey said. “We are we are not full at City Hall. It is 100-year-old building. It has lots of historic character which is what I like about the building and why we’ve made renovations over the pastseven years to bring in to give a nice standard.”

Kelsey said Bowie is looking at locating a new utility service center, so there are ideas to move customer service to that same location. That frees up even more space at City Hall, Kelsey said.

“I’m not sure that you would want to build a new city hall at that point,” Kelsey said.