May 1, 2013

City Hall to undergo remodeling

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

According to City Auditor Peni Peterson, the city of Watford City considered expanding the City Hall building sometime around 2007, but was never actually able to go through with the plans. And now, being on the cusp of actually expanding, Peterson states she is glad the original plans never came to fruition, because the building would have been too small.
Today, the Watford City City Hall is days away from closing on an expansion project that will add space onto both the front and rear portions of the current facility, increasing the number of offices in the building, adding a reception counter area, creating a separate office space for the Watford City Police Department, and creating an additional room to house the city’s various plans, as well as upgrading the building’s heating and air conditioning and reconfiguring the entrance to the civic center.
The City Hall construction project will also include building a six-bay emergency services building across the street from the City Hall building and next the Watford City Post Office building, where the current city employee parking lot exists.
“We are so ready for this project to take place,” states Peterson.
Because, according to Peterson, the city’s current government facility contains four offices that house roughly 10 city employees, including the Watford City Auditor, Supervisor of Public Works, City Code Enforcer, City Assessor, City Planner, and various support staff. The building also contains the Watford City Police Department, which consists of eight officers and Molly Shaw, the department’s receptionist, who all share three desks and one office space.
According to Peterson, the project will increase the number of offices in the city’s facility from four to 12, not including a separate space for the police department, which will contain four additional offices for the officers.
Peterson states that the construction will take place in two phases. During the first phase, the city government offices and the city planning offices will all move into the city council room for temporary residence.
“Anyone who needs to access our offices will use the council room entrance, on the north side of the building across from Jack & Jill,” states Peterson.
While the council room is packed with city employees, the construction workers will be working on adding on to the front of the City Hall building, enclosing the entrance to the civic center to give it a better reception area, and upgrading the building’s heating and air conditioning.
While the Watford City City Hall receives a face-lift, construction will simultaneously be taking place for a new Emergency Services Building. The building will contain six bays, two offices, a reception area and a training room.
According to Watford City Fire Chief Ben Weltikol, the new building will provide the city’s fire department with additional storage, as well as keep the men safe.
“It’s a stress reliever for us, because we have no room in the fire station,” states Weltikol, who is referring to the fact that the fire department shares space with the McKenzie County Ambulance Service, and between the two of them, there are 11 pieces of equipment stored in four bays.
This being the case, when equipment is needed from the fire hall, oftentimes things need to be moved around to gain access to the needed equipment. And with limited space and the high chance of this happening in times of emergency, Weltikol states the chance for someone getting injured is high.
“The new building will give us more room to store our vehicles and gear, and prevent us from having to worry about someone getting hurt or equipment getting damaged, while things are being switched around,” states Weltikol. “And with the way McKenzie County and Watford City are growing, we will likely need space, because we will eventually have to add more equipment to both the Fire Department and the Ambulance Service.”
Weltikol states that he will house the department’s tender truck, grass truck, six-wheeler and trailer in the new building, for sure, along with one or two ambulances, and some smaller pieces of equipment.
The bidding process for this project was recently completed for a second time. Peterson states that at first, only the City Hall portion of the project was bid out. However, once the results came back, the city decided that bidding both the City Hall remodel and the Emergency Services Building projects together would save the city both time and money by having them done by the same contractor.
“We just finished the second bidding process and hope to have a contract signed by May 6,” states Peterson.
Once that, and an asbestos abatement are complete, the contractors will be able to begin working as soon as the ground is ready.
Which is good for the contractor, because according to Peterson, there is a deadline clause in the city’s contract, which will force the contractor to have the City Hall completed by Oct. 31, 2013, with the Emergency Services Building shortly after. Failure to do so will cost the contractor a fee per day for every day that he goes past the deadline.