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DeKalb mayor picks task force to tackle city hall renovation

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 10:49 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 2:29 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – The issue of providing a tornado shelter for the residents of Southmoor Estates, a concern for city staff and the City Council, has been resolved with the help of Barb City Manor.

Ellen Tyne, administrator of the retirement center at 680 Haish Blvd., said she plans to meet soon with management of the manufactured home community.

“We have an extremely solid building with a couple of areas that are great to use when there are tornado warnings,” Tyne said. “We felt we could handle having the folks from Southmoor here with us to keep them safe.”

Now that the emergency shelter has been addressed, Mayor John Rey has created a task force to study options for renovating City Hall. Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane and 5th Ward Alderman Ron Naylor are serving on the task force with city staff.

“There are several options on the table,” Naylor said. “This subcommittee will evaluate those options.”

Naylor said one of the major concerns is the cost, and how best to address long-range plans. According to information provided to the council at its meeting as a Committee of the Whole on Monday, the city has $5.5 million budgeted for the renovation. Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu has said there are about $6 million in tax increment financing funds available for the project.

“We want to be sure the building will serve the residents for a long time, to be efficient, to be convenient,” Naylor said.

Among the issues to be addressed are leaving council chambers, which also serves as a courtroom on Mondays, on the second floor, moving them to the first floor or moving them across Fourth Street to the annex building.

“I think moving the council chambers to the first floor of this building is preferable,” Rey said.

With no specific timeline in place, Naylor said it’s important to have the new city manager in place to be part of the discussion. Newly-hired City Manager Anne Marie Gaura’s first day with the city will be Jan. 21.

“I’m hopeful that, within a couple of months,we should be able to make some decisions and hire an architect,” Naylor said. “Hopefully by mid-summer, we should have something in the works.”

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