Converse to open two new municipal buildings this month
The first three months of the new year will be significant for Converse as the city plans to open three major facilities, all part of a November 2015 bond package.
Two structures — a new state-of-the art fire station and a new City Hall — will open the next two weekends, while the city’s first-ever animal control facility is slated for a March opening.
City employees, administrators and guest dignitaries will gather Saturday, Jan. 12 for the 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting at the new City Hall at 406 S. Seguin St.
“We anticipate being operational by next Wednesday,” Converse City Manager Le Ann Piatt said of the two-story, 10,236-square-foot structure built in the former parking lot of the Ed J. Knuepper Justice Center that houses the Police Department and City Council chambers.
“One of the benefits is that we’re all in the same building, we’re not in pieces,” Piatt said. “We’ve got a one-stop shop we’re offering … the layout of the old building was inefficient.”
The building will house the city’s finance and billing offices, as well as municipal court and code compliance, which will move from the Police Department next door.
“We’ve created a complex. Now we have a one-stop shop, with the courts, Police Department, city offices, administrative offices and government all in one place,” Mayor Al Suarez said. “It’s planned for the growth that we are going to see.”
Converse voters approved a $2.5 million bond in November 2015 for construction of City Hall.
“It has room for expansion as we grow with the proposed annexation. One of the neat things we did, we have some storage rooms built in,” she said. “As we move to the digital age, the storage rooms are wired and prepared to turn into offices, if necessary.”
Piatt said the city turned one of the blueprinted storage rooms into a studio for broadcast and television production.
“We will have a government-access television channel, we’ll be able to broadcast any of our meetings, any of our events, PSAs, events on Spectrum,” she said. “We could televise and advertise Night In Ole Converse, Green Day, Light Up, any number of things.”
A portion of the building that houses the city’s current administrative offices will be demolished following the move, as the structure has foundation issues that cannot be resolved. The area will be used for overflow parking.
Suarez will act as emcee for Saturday’s proceedings, with tours of the building to follow.
One week later, the city will unveil its new fire station at 602 Toepperwein Road in a celebration starting at 10 a.m. The facility features five drive-through apparatus bays, 10 dorm rooms, a full-size kitchen, a fitness gym, a workshop, and storage rooms for gear and equipment.
“To see what they are moving into, and from where they came, is incredible,” Piatt said, in describing the current Station No. 1, which the new station will replace. The original Station No. 1 was built in the 1950s and has undergone a number of renovations and modernization over the years.
The new station will provide uninterrupted response to Converse residents to the west of railroad tracks that divide the city along Gibbs-Sprawl Road. With Station No. 2 on Thornton Lane near Boysville and Judson Middle School able to provide service to the south and east, the new station will handle calls in the north and west.
The new station features energy-saving LED lighting and includes an alert system that notifies firefighters anywhere within the building of emergency calls.
The 10 a.m. start on Jan. 19 will feature the Converse Fire Honor Guard, which will make its debut in presenting, unfolding and raising the flag during the ceremony.
The 15,000-square-foot, $3 million fire station also will house administration offices, a training office and a workout room.