Hopewell Coun­cil wants shift in of­fice space

Law­mak­ers vote 4-2 to re­lo­cate city clerk and deputy clerk, cre­ate a new work/cer­e­mo­nial space for mayor

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Atkin­son

HOPEWELL— The city will re­or­ga­nize its coun­cil of­fice suite in the Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing to re­lo­cate the city clerk and as­sis­tant city clerk, and con­vert the clerk’s cur­rent of­fice into a new mayor’s of­fice and the cer­e­mo­nial nu­cleus of the suite.

On a 4-2 vote Tues­day night, City Coun­cil agreed to the sec­ond of two op­tions to cre­ate what Mayor Jas­mine E. Gore called a “tri­an­gle” con­cept where the city could re­ceive vis­i­tors, and the mayor would have a new workspace. It also would cre­ate a new flow be­tween the of­fices and es­sen­tially add the duty of of­fi­cial coun­cil re­cep­tion­ist to the deputy clerk of coun­cil.

Un­der the pro­posal, City Clerk Ron­ni­eye Ar­ring­ton would move into the for­mer mayor/coun­cil of­fice space. The of­fice next to that, cur­rently the city at­tor­ney’s of­fice, would be the re­cep­tion area. The next of­fice over, Ar­ring­ton’s cur­rent of­fice, would be con­verted into the mayor’s new of­fice.

The city at­tor­ney would move into the space on the other side of the mayor’s new of­fice, which cur­rently is oc­cu­pied by the city’s in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy staff.

The cost to re­lo­cate and

re­dec­o­rate the of­fice suite would be around $5,500. Gore said that money will come from left­over funds in coun­cil’s cur­rent bud­get that were not used by the three coun­cilors who left of­fice ear­lier this month.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posal, the cost would cover a new mayor’s desk, con­fer­ence ta­ble and chairs, chairs for the re­cep­tion area, a fil­ing cab­i­net for the deputy clerk, a book­case for the city clerk, and as­sorted knobs and hard­ware for new doors into the re­cep­tion area.

Pro­po­nents of the re­lo­ca­tion said it would im­prove the aes­thet­ics of the coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tive suite, as well as pro­vide a wel­com­ing area for vis­i­tors, dig­ni­taries and oth­ers do­ing busi­ness with the city. Gore, who was se­lected mayor last week, said she will need the mayor’s desk be­cause she spends a great deal of time at the Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing al­ready.

Coun­cilor Johnny S. Partin Jr., one of three new faces on coun­cil, said he was vot­ing against the shift right now be­cause “I find a lot of this ex­ces­sive for a part-time of­fice.” He was joined in op­po­si­tion by fel­low new­comer Deb­o­rah B. Ran­dolph.

How­ever, un­like pre­vi­ous coun­cil meet­ings where op­po­si­tion of­ten es­ca­lated into ver­bal al­ter­ca­tions, the dis­cord over this pro­posal was ex­tremely civil. Gore said af­ter the meet­ing that she had been made aware of the op­po­si­tion prior to the meet­ing, and she re­spected the op­po­nents for their

hon­esty in stat­ing their dis­sention.

She ac­knowl­edged Partin’s re­mark about the part-time po­si­tion, but she added be­ing a coun­cilor “does re­quire full-time work. Our work never stops.”

“Hope­fully when you see what we’re try­ing to ac­com­plish, you will bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate it,” Gore told Partin.

Gore was joined in sup­port by Vice Mayor Pa­tience A. Ben­nett and coun­cilors Ar­lene Hol­loway and Jan­ice Den­ton. Den­ton said she felt there was a need for the re­vamp­ing be­cause peo­ple would see “that if we are or­ga­nized and ef­fi­cient, they will also see that we know what we’re do­ing.”

Ben­nett, the third coun­cil new­comer, said she had been in­side the for­mer of­fice of the mayor, “and I thought it was a stor­age room.”

“If we’re re­ceiv­ing guests, then it would be ben­e­fi­cial to have a meet­ing space,” Ben­nett said.

The Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing un­der­went ren­o­va­tions sev­eral years ago to cre­ate an ex­ten­sion for the po­lice de­part­ment, and a new coun­cil cham­bers and coun­cilor of­fice space on the top floor. With the po­lice de­part­ment a cou­ple of months

away from mov­ing into its new sta­tion ad­ja­cent to the Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing, City Man­ager John M. Alt­man Jr. said that will al­low for more con­sol­i­da­tion of city of­fices into the build­ing.

Gore

Partin Jr.

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