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
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.