St. George • With construction now afoot on a new $45 million city hall, St. George officials and workers will soon get more space and won’t be shoehorned into closets or cramped spaces.
Mayor Michele Randall joined other city officials, residents and dignitaries at 61 S. Main Street in downtown St. George on Wednesday morning to break ground on a new 69,500 square-foot city hall, which will double the 34,000 square feet of the current facility at 170 E. 200 North once it is completed in two years.
“This is so exciting,” a clearly ebullient Randall said following the ceremony. “We’ve been cramped at our current city hall for a long time. “We have people working in closed spaces that we have converted into offices. And our current city hall is kind of dark whereas the new one will be much more light, open and user-friendly.”
When the existing city hall was constructed in 1980 at a cost of $3 million, Randall said she was an eighth-grader. Obviously, she noted, a lot has changed since then — not only for her but also for the city she now presides over. For starters, St. George’s population over the past 43 years has exploded from roughly 13,000 to more than 100,000. In the same time span, the number of full-time city employees has increased from 100 to 847. The city also employs another 500 part-time workers.
Due to that growth and the growing demand for services, multiple departments at the current city hall — police, 911 dispatch, water and energy services and parks and community services, among others — have relocated to other buildings. Once the new facility is completed, the mayor said, the current building will be remodeled and used by the police to alleviate overcrowding at their existing headquarters.
St. George’s new city hall will not only boast double the space of the current model, it will double the capacity of the council chambers, which will be able to accommodate 300 people instead of 150.
The council chambers will see double, perhaps even triple duty. When not in use for council meetings, city officials say, the chamber can be converted to a community room, a training center or a space for public forums. The three-level city hall will also feature a 4,350-square-foot indoor “civic space” at the ground level that can be used to host events, including art and other exhibits.
It will be complemented by a four-level structure that will provide nearly triple the amount of public parking at the current city hall. An atrium will provide easy access from the parking structure to municipal spaces in the city hall and to the Historic Town Square, St. George Tabernacle and nearby businesses.
“We want it to be a place that is more accommodating, where members of the community can feel comfortable … and know that they will be heard,” said council member Natalie Larsen.
While the new city hall represents an exciting new chapter in St. George’s history, officials there don’t want to close the book on the past — not without a historical nod to what has gone on before. For instance, the address of the facility at 61 S. Main pays homage to the year 1861 when Brigham Young sent 309 families to settle in the area.
Randall said that just as the current city hall has served St. George residents well over the past four-plus decades, she hopes residents’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to say the same about its successor a half-century or more from now.
“I don’t believe my ancestors, or yours, could possibly have imagined such a beautiful, amazing, vibrant city where the world [now] comes to visit,” she said. " I think they would be very proud our new city hall will be located in the heart of downtown Dixie.”
In commenting about the groundbreaking, St. George resident Hal Christensen also looked to history.
“Speaking to the House of Lords about rebuilding the bomb-damaged House of Commons during World War II,” he noted, “Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us,’ It’s my hope that this new edifice will inspire our citizenry and elected leaders to greater public service and civility.”
Construction of the city hall is being funded by approximately $20 million in sales tax and municipal building authority bonds. The remaining $25 million is coming from a mixture of enterprise funds and money in the city’s capital projects fund, according to St. George spokesperson David Cordero.
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