The big news from Bellaire City Hall this month is the City Hall itself.
The new facility — part of a $20 million project for a new civic “campus” — was opened for business on Nov. 13, with a ribbon cutting and reception set for 6 p.m. Dec. 3, preceding the first City Council meeting in a new chamber on the lower floor of the building.
Although the project once showed a $1 million overrun attributed to furniture, fixture and equipment costs, city official now saying it is coming in at budget. Mayor Andrew Friedberg terms it “modern and professional, upscale but not over-the-top.”
The first floor is dedicated to the most constituent-friendly uses. Utility bills can be paid, recycling bins and garbage bags purchased, and permits handled in one customer service area on the ground floor, which also includes conference rooms, the City Council chamber, and a large, bright open space with seating. The Bellaire LIFE program facility for seniors will eventually occupy a space right inside the entrance to the building, but that will wait until next summer because continuing construction is making parking inconvenient. For now, seniors will continue to enjoy their activities at Bellaire United Methodist Church.
Upstairs are human resources, finance, information technology, development services — and, in a departure from a once-accessible ground-floor office with easy access — the city manager’s office.
Ongoing construction of the municipal “campus” is a game of musical chairs, of sorts. The old City Hall is being used for police and courts and won’t be deactivated and demolished until after new building on the site of the old Police Department is completed — now projected for January. At that time, construction will begin on the Civic Center, which will link to the new City Hall.
Officials are hoping for total completion of the project next summer — at which time a big, community grand opening celebration will be held.
Featured in Essentials Magazine, December 2018