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By SUSAN LEATHERS

Brentwood Home Page

If you’ve stepped inside the main entrance to the Brentwood Municipal Center of late, you’ve noticed a few things amiss. For instance, the walls are bare and there’s a big ol’ piece of heavy equipment sitting in the lobby.

By SUSAN LEATHERS

Brentwood Home Page

If you’ve stepped inside the main entrance to the Brentwood Municipal Center of late, you’ve noticed a few things amiss. For instance, the walls are bare and there’s a big ol’ piece of heavy equipment sitting in the lobby.

What gives? Inquiring minds wanted to know so we went to Assistant City Manager Kirk Bednar and the city’s engineering director Mike Harris for answers.

First a little history. The Municipal Center, located at 5211 Maryland Way, opened in 1987 and is fully paid for, so it’s in the city’s best interest to adapt it to fit its current needs rather than buy or build something else. The city now occupies about 75 percent of the building with the Brentwood Cool Springs Chamber and Benefit Solutions leasing the remaining space, Bednar explained. Benefit Solutions, however, will vacate its space when its lease runs out in April.

In 1987, the city’s population was about 13,000. As it has grown (it’s about 36,000 today), “the city has been forced to expand operations in a piecemeal way,” Bednar said.

And anyone who has been there for business or a meeting knows it isn’t the easiest place to navigate or figure out where to go.

“The internal flow within the building is less than ideal; some departments are split in different parts of the building, and it is not very customer friendly when someone walks in the main door trying to figure out where to go,” Bednar said. Though some cosmetic updates have been made over the past 24 years, “there has never really been any significant renovation of the original office areas.”

Some pressing needs, most importantly the required expansion of the 911 dispatch center to allow for implementation of a new state-wide 911 system, are resulting in the much-needed revamping of the entire building. The work was divided into four phases with the first phase – the construction of a new centralized computer server room — is complete.

Customer service improvement key

Phase 2, which is under way now, will hopefully be complete by mid- to late-April. Customer service will be greatly improved with the addition of a manned reception desk and two customer service windows – one for traffic  tickets and police-related needs and another to pay water and sewer bills.

There will also be a door directly from the lobby to better process the police fingerprinting service provided to the public.

This phase also includes energy improvements such as installation of a circular door into the lobby from the Maryland Way side of the building and double doors at the back from the service parking lot to better control the lobby’s temperature.  In the upstairs lobby area, carpeting is being installed to help cut down on noise associated with the existing brick tile.

The Finance Department area will get its first upgrade since the building opened. Renovations include an improved work space and new office furniture and painting.

Police functions will be united

Phase 3 is expected to begin in May and take three months. The police administration offices will be relocated to the space being vacated by Benefit Solutions, whose lease expires in April. This will result in police support functions being in closer proximity to the Criminal Investigation Division.

The fourth and final phase is the actual expansion of the 911 dispatch center which includes not only more space, but the installation of all-new radio equipment, a new generator for the building and a new back-up power battery system as required by the state.  Dispatch functions will temporarily be relocated to another location within the building.  

Bednar said he hopes all of the work will be completed by December.

The good news is about a third of the $1 million dispatch center expansion is being funded from the Emergency Communications District.  The remaining renovations will be funded from the city’s Municipal Center Fund which was set aside last year from the general operating budget. “We don’t have firm numbers yet on all phases of the work, but these costs are currently estimated to be around $500,000.

“When completed, the City will have a more attractive, functional City Hall that remains ‘debt free,’” Bednar said.   

With all of the improvements, however, comes one big loss. The “Welcome to the City of Brentwood” message in the existing lobby’s tile floor will soon be covered with carpet to help reduce noise.  But a bit of trivia helps lessen the loss.

“This wording was only installed as an afterthought in 1987 when the contractor was unable to repair a defective area in the brick tiles,” Bednar explained.

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