DUNEDIN — City commissioners will get a chance to weigh in on proposed design concepts for the new City Hall-Municipal Services Complex during a special work session Monday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m.
Over the last few months, during a series of town hall meetings, residents and interested individuals gave their opinions about how the municipal complex on the 1.7-acre site should look. During that time the number of design concepts, offered by Harvard Jolly Architects, has grown from four to seven proposals.
The Nov. 4 meeting was going to be advertised as a special commission meeting, which could have culminated in a vote on a project design. However, during their Oct. 17 meeting, commissioners decided to hold a commission work session, where no vote is taken, so officials could give their opinions and offer the public yet another chance to make suggestions.
Commissioner Maureen Freaney said she would like to know what fellow commissioners are thinking when it comes to design and space use.
"I’m really happy we are doing this, because I am going to re-emphasize we can’t speak with each other except up here,” she said.
Freaney said she would like to know how much covered space there is on each concept because there could be some good event space. She added she would also like to hear more about which designs are better for solar power.
“We are making a really good 100-year decision basically,” Freaney said.
During earlier work sessions, comments about the design concepts ranged from buildings looking too institutionalized to its overhangs resembling a service station.
As a result of past town hall meetings, additional design concepts for the 37,500-square-foot complex were created. Additional concepts feature a structure that resembles a townhouse development, another that incorporates a fishing village look or a design that appears to make the structure look like individualized buildings with stylish overhangs, rather than one large mass.
The proposed $24.7 million complex, at 737 Louden Ave., includes a one-story City Commission chamber wing, and consolidates three city buildings into an adjacent two-story structure. As currently conceived, architects envisions an L-shaped City Hall-Municipal complex stretching along Milwaukee Avenue, Wood Street and portions of Louden Avenue. Because of the difference in height from Highland Avenue to Milwaukee, there will be a series of grand steps leading to a courtyard at Louden Avenue and Virginia Street.
The project includes a parking garage on the Highland Avenue side of the site, with townhomes serving as a buffer along Wood Street.
City Manager Jennifer Bramley said after the most recent town hall meeting, held at the Hale Center, one of the residents asked if there would be opportunity for additional input.
She added it was then decided that since plans for a new city hall are such an important issue, the commission and public should have one more opportunity to give their input on design renderings, along with hearing any additional information staff can provide.
“It is really the first opportunity the five of you will have to discuss the City Hall project, because according to The Sunshine Law you can’t discuss that at any place but on this dais,” Bramley noted.
At the commission’s Nov. 4 meeting, city officials will bring them much information as they can working with Harvard Jolly, the architect, Bramley said.
“You wanted to know more about massing and how we face the neighborhoods. You also wanted to know more about open space and how much gathering space there was in each rendering,” Bramley said.
She thinks city officials will be able to narrow down the number of renderings although they are still in the early stages of the project.
“Working with Harvard Jolly, we are still in design development, so we are still in the very early stages of this building; we’ll bring to you as much information as we can. One thing I’m getting is it’s going to take a little extra time and you’re committed to taking the extra time to make the right decision,” Bramley said.
In speaking to members of the public, Commissioner Deborah Kynes said “we are building for 75 to 100 years, so someday it will be a landmark. That makes it even more difficult and we need all your input, even more, to achieve that objective. That’s how important this decision will be and we need your help.”
A few weeks after the Nov. 4 meeting, commissioners will then vote to select a final design during a regular commission meeting.
In another topic, City Manager Bramley reported staff is working with the state Department of Transportation to provide a flashing crosswalk on Bayshore Boulevard or Alt. U.S. 19, north of Weaver Park at Cedar Street.
The intersection improvement was requested by residents after a March accident in which a 75-year-old Canadian woman died of fatal injuries when she stepped off the curb and was hit by a car while attempting to cross the road.
Bramley said the project is moving through the estimate process, with the city requesting proposals for construction plans.
“We thought it would be a lot more than it is,” she said.
City officials thought improvements to that crosswalk would require medians and curb cuts costing around $100,000.
“It’s actually $30,000, which is much more manageable than we thought. The state will donate the flashers and the city will do the rest of the work so we are moving forward,” she added.