The 120 or so city employees who have just moved or soon will move into their new City Service Center digs are excited about the change, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin said.
"They're definitely excited, very excited," Goodwin said during a walk-through of the facility last week. "The Government Center is 40 years old now and has its maintenance challenges.
"This will be great for our employees, but most important is it will be much more convenient for citizens."
Already at the City Service Center are Goodwin, the 311 Citizen Service call center and CCG-TV. The following departments will be there starting today: parks and recreation, occupational tax, business license, revenue collection, elections and registration and the tax assessor. The tax commissioner's office will be there June 25, and the first Council meeting will be July 9.
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When all the moving has been done, eight departments will be in the facility, along with council chambers, community rooms
and a police precinct.
Adjacent to the 54,000-square-foot, two-story office building is a 375-space covered parking deck with a covered walkway connecting the two.
There are two main entrances into the grand lobby, which features a terrazzo floor with the seal of the city inlaid at the base of a staircase up to the second floor. The lobby is about 50-by-50 feet with a 46-foot ceiling featuring a large windowed skylight.
Most of the time the public will be able to enter from either the east or west sides, Goodwin said. But on days that Columbus Council meets, only the entrance on the west side (facing the parking deck) will be open, and visitors will have to walk through a metal detector, as they do all the time at the Government Center.
At other times, no metal detector will be in use, Goodwin said, but two deputy sheriffs will be on duty at all times and there will be a Columbus Police Department presence on the grounds often.
Council Chambers will be expanded considerably from the current makeshift arrangement on the Plaza Level of the Government Center. Seating will double to about 200 available seats. Visitors, instead of craning to see exhibits on one of two flat-screen TVs, will be faced with eight 55-inch screens staggered down each side of the chamber.
Two similar screens face the horseshoe desk where councilors and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will sit -- in new leather chairs. Each station features an electronic keypad where councilors will cast votes, the results of which will be shown on the large screens throughout the room.
Council will have a conference room for executive sessions and a small break room behind their horseshoe desk.
Adjacent to Council Chambers are the new CCG-TV studios.
One department particularly glad to be moving into the new facility is Parks and Recreation, which has been bounced around lately. Once housed in the Comer Gym, they had to relocate to the Fox Community Center two years ago when a strong storm damaged the Bibb City facility.
"We are all extremely excited," said Parks and Recreation Director James Worsley. "We hope we'll be able to serve the public even better than we did before and have the resources that we need to do the job even better as well."