Helena breaks ground on new city hall

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer 

HELENA – The city of Helena broke ground on the new Helena City Hall on the morning of Monday, May 13 at 10 a.m. Featuring remarks from key supporters of the project as well as a ceremonial ground breaking, the morning marked the beginning of a new chapter for the city of Helena.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, citizens, city employees and representatives from multiple levels of government gathered to witness this historic milestone, including all members of the Helena City Council, State Rep. Kenneth Paschal, Rep. Russell Bedsole, Rep. Leigh Hulsey and Sen. April Weaver.

The city hall project is one aspect of the comprehensive plan, Helena Forward. The plan features the new Helena City Hall, town center and the Sports and Leisure Complex.

The construction of the new Helena City Hall is a collaboration between the city and U.S. Steel. According to Jammie Cowden of U.S. Steel, the company and the city of Helena have had in-depth discussions about how U.S. Steel can help make the city’s goals a reality.

“We appreciate the relationship with the city of Helena,” Cowden said. “I just want to say thank you to the mayor, to the City Council and the staff for working with U.S. Steel and our team as well for putting together a great plan for the city of Helena to make this city hall and the Helena Forward project successful.”

Wyatt Builds has been selected as the construction company for the new Helena City Hall. Wyatt Builds CEO Mary Wyatt Crenshaw thanked the mayor and the city council for the opportunity to work on this project.

“It’s going to be an amazing building,” Crenshaw said. “We’re excited to get started. We look forward to working and serving the community during this process. We’ve got a couple of wonderful Helena residents that will be a part of the team out here building and executing this project with the highest quality and safety.”

The new Helena City Hall will be 38,000 square feet, with only 25,000 square intending to be used with the building is completed. According to Mayor Puckett, the other 13,000 feet will be set aside for future growth.

“We always plan and do everything we can for the future to make sure that we are not going to outgrow ourselves,” Puckett said. “We are always setting ourselves up for success. Fifteen years from now, we will hopefully have growth that can cover that. We don’t want to have to build another city hall ever again in this city. We want this to be the benchmark of our community.”

Beyond being the meeting location for the City Council, the new Helena City Hall will house the building inspection department, the city’s utility departments and office spaces for the city’s department heads including the Parks and Recreation director, the fire chief and the police chief. In addition, the new city hall will feature a senior citizen’s center.

“One of the things that I am most excited about is that there is going to be a 3,600 square foot senior facility on the first floor,” Puckett said. “It will be an opportunity for our senior citizens to be able to have a place to gather, to be able to have fellowship and truly be able to have a place that they can call home in our community.”

In most traditional city halls, the council chambers are the first thing that people see when they enter the building. At the new Helena City Hall, the doors will open up to the senior center.  Puckett shared that this is an intentional design decision.

“(The council chamber) is just a big room that is used three or four times a month. There’s no reason it should be put on the first floor,” Puckett said. “We want to make sure this building represents our community and is a community facility.”

In his closing remarks, Puckett offered a final thank you to the Helena City Council.

“Thank you all so much for coming out and sharing in this day,” Puckett said. “Thank you, Council President Lobell, Council Pro-Tempore VanCleave, Councilmember Joseph, Councilmember Woodman and Councilmember Willis for all that you all have done with this over the past two years. This is a project that did not start over night. You all have put in a ton of work over the past two years.”

After the speeches, the Helena City Council members participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking with hard hats and shovels provided by Wyatt Builds. As they turned over the gravel, construction could officially begin on the future center of Helena.

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