It's official: City hall will open for business

By Ronald MacArthur

More than 1 1/2 years since ground was broken, employees are getting ready to move into the new Seaford City Hall at 414 High St. The city will host an open house to show off the new building on Sunday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m., and will officially move into the building and open doors to the public on Monday, Sept. 13. “Yes, we are all very anxious to make the move,” Dolores Slatcher, the city manager said. “And I think our customers are anxious too.” According to Slatcher, the building is nearly ready for occupation with final touches being completed. The new computer and phone systems have been installed and a new server is in the process of being installed. Slatcher said that the new building, at the corner of High Street and Market Street, was designed with the customer in mind with direct input from the people who will work there. “Everybody had a say about their own office space,” she said. “The space they work in was developed by them for them,” she added. She added that from the beginning, with the formation of a building committee, improved customer service was a priority. The building is handicapped accessible and has ample parking complete with drive-in service and a night deposit box. The building is also more secure for the employees who will work there. “The billing and building permit offices have been separated as well,” she added. “And parking is a lot safer since we don’t have to compete with the fire service anymore.”
The cost of the project was $1.9 million with the addition of three non-budgeted items, according to Slatcher. The items included the computer system server, an upgraded filing system and the demolition of a house on King Street. The city manager said that the mayor and council had started discussing the idea of a new city hall six years ago. She said that the original plan was to look at upgrading the old city hall at 302 E. King St. The estimate in 1997 was around $750,000 to improve the infrastructure of the building. (Slatcher noted that a new estimate recently commissioned by the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department totaled $2.8 million. The department is considering occupying the building when the city vacates.) “Money was always the issue,” she said. “We knew we had some serious problems with the old building. Then we started having heating and electrical problems with things starting to shut down that really moved the process along.” The council voted to proceed with the construction of a new city hall and borrow the funds from the city’s reserve accounts. Slatcher said that $1.3 million will be paid back to the reserve accounts over a 10-year period starting with the next fiscal year. Mayor Dan Short appointed a building committee to help with the design of the new city hall. “Staff had already done some of the preliminary work and then the building committee refined it,” Slatcher said. “The staff had come up with a design that resembled a standard professional office building look. “The building committee actually thought the building should be brick, be more stately, and look more like a city hall. They really elevated what the project looked like,” she added. The general contractor was CMSI and the architect/engineer was George, Miles & Buhr. All of the current employees in the old city hall will be housed in the new city hall (code, administration, and billing / accounting departments) as well as all directors within the city will have offices in the new city hall except Chief Gary Morris, who will remain at the police department.

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