New City Hall still in the works

Published 2:25 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alabaster officials are considering constructing a new City Hall building next to the current Alabaster Senior Center. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabaster City Council likely will continue discussing plans to construct a new City Hall building next to the Alabaster Senior Center on the old Siluria mill site during a late March work session.

The announcement came after a recent City Council work session, during which council members reviewed preliminary plans for the project.

As presented, the project likely would cost about $3 million, said Alabaster City Administrator George Henry. Henry said the city would work to fund debt payments for the project with current tax revenues or budget allocations to the project “without a negative change to the general fund budget.”

During a Nov. 22, 2011 meeting, the council voted to fund architectural services for the new City Hall, which would hold city government offices, city court and other municipal departments.

Original plans for the new City Hall called for an about 10,000-square-foot building, but more recent plans put the building at about 12,000 square feet. Henry said the design of the building was changed after the architects received feedback from city departments.

Current plans include a large parking lot behind the new City Hall building, which would help separate it from the Senior Center parking lot, project engineers said.

City officials said the city has outgrown the current City Hall, which was constructed in 1960 on U.S. 31.

“We desperately need that new space,” said Ward 7 Councilman Tommy Ryals.

If the new City Hall is constructed, the city would give the entire current City Hall to the Alabaster Police Department. Currently, the police department occupies about 2,500 square feet in the lower level of the current City Hall.

“If we can get the space upstairs, it would definitely help,” said Alabaster Deputy Police Chief Curtis Rigney. “Several people work out of here, so it would be a benefit to us.”

The current 2,500-square-foot police department houses the city’s jail, police records office, communications office, booking office and a few administrative offices. The city usually has about 80 sworn officers, Rigney said.

Several years ago, Alabaster purchased property off Alabama 119 to one day build a new “city center,” which would house most of the city’s departments, and would provide room for a surrounding business district.

Ryals said he views the new City Hall next to the Senior Center as a “Band-Aid,” and said he would not like to see the city “spend any more money than is necessary” on the project.

“We projected it would cost $10-12 million to build what we outlined as the new, permanent city hall (at the city center),” Ryals said. “I don’t want us to spend so much money on this Band-Aid that it will keep you from working on your dream project.”