November 20, 2013

City Hall remodel back on track

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The contractors working on the Watford City City Hall renovation project have faced glitches, back orders and manpower issues. It is nothing that is uncommon to the construction process in modern-day, oil-impacted McKenzie County. But it has put the completion of the City Hall expansion project well behind schedule.
With the projected end date for the project nearing and the list of things still to be done not getting any smaller, the project will definitely not be completed by its estimated deadline date of Oct. 31.
“The contractors are now hoping to be done with the City Hall project by sometime at the end of January, and they have a tentative completion date for the Emergency Services Building of Jan. 18,” states Peni Peterson, Watford City city auditor. “But it is too soon to know for sure.”
According to Peterson, the obstacles that have interfered with this project have been all over the map. Things like worker turnover during the construction process, materials not being as readily available as the contractors expected, and surprise issues with the existing structure have set Ahtna, the company that has been working on the project since April, back.
“One big setback was the Civic Center’s kitchen,” states Peterson. “There were some original design flaws that no one realized when the plans were made and the kitchen had to be completely reconstructed.”
“Despite some of these issues, we have still tried to maintain a rustic and natural look throughout the entire building,” states Peterson. “There will still be some neat aesthetics that I think people will like.”
Currently, the City of Watford City has 12 employees that are occupying two spaces. But when the construction process first began, the city had 10 employees.
“When we designed this building, we planned to have 13 office spaces for our employees,” states Peterson. “We originally had three empty office spaces, but now we only have one.”
The City Hall addition will also include a Plan Room to house the big plotter, as well as all plans that are coming in for developments.
Even though a growing number of city employees are occupying a small space for longer than they had anticipated, the outlook of having their own office space is on the horizon, which Peterson states will help them through the next few months.
Similarly, once the city moves into their newly-renovated and expanded facility, the Watford City Police Department will face a construction period of their own.
“Like us, the police department is sharing one office,” states Peterson. “But once the city is in its new offices, the police department will occupy the Heritage Room space while their renovations are going on.”
Peterson states that once completed, the Watford City Police Department will move from having one large office space that the officers share, to having four office spaces and a secure reception area.
“I know it does not seem like a lot is going on here, but that is because the work has moved inside,” states Peterson. “Right now it is all tape and texture that takes forever to dry.”
And, in addition, Peterson states that the contractors hope to be putting the roof on this week.
“We, at the city, know that we have inconvenienced groups who had planned to use the Civic Center. And that our need to block the street off during the construction process has been a challenge for everyone, especially since we are in such a busy part of town,” states Peterson. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding during this process. We know this has not been easy and we are thankful for the community’s patience with all that is going on.”