Village hall? Manhattan on the move
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org April 8, 2014 6:36PM
Manhattan village staff members pack up their office supplies as they prepare to move the village hall to 260 Market Place. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 10, 2014 6:38AM
Manhattan village administrator Kevin Sing climbed the steep, narrow stairs two at a time to reach his second-floor office at the village hall — a frequent exercise he certainly won’t miss when Manhattan moves its offices this week to a more spacious, single-story structure.
He joked that the now-cramped staff may experience “separation anxiety” as they leave their 2,500-square-foot building at 245 S. State St. and move into a space of 17,000 square feet, less than a mile north on Route 52 to 260 Market Place — or more familiar, next to Berkot’s grocery store.
The village hall will be closed Thursday and Friday and reopen for business Monday in its new quarters. Its phone number will remain the same: (815) 418-2100.
The village bought the former Starcon building for just over $1.6 million in December and began conducting its board meetings there in January, eliminating the need to meet at Manhattan Junior High School.
“It’s almost like it was built for us. All of the offices are exactly as they were,” Sing said, noting that the board room already included audio/visual equipment.
A couple of walls will be opened up to create larger meeting rooms, and 6,000 square feet at the north end of the building will be remodeled later this year for the police department, which now occupies about 700 square feet at the current village hall. A 1,000-square-foot addition will serve as a sally port for the police department.
The entire project was paid for with cash on hand, Sing said.
“This is really an exciting time for the village,” he said, adding that the new village hall will enhance the village’s overall image.
“It’s been well-received by the community. They understand the need,” he said.
For police Chief Harold Martin III, the new facility will improve the morale of his 10 full-time and seven part-time officers, he said.
“They will feel like they are appreciated. This will bring us into the 21st Century,” Martin said. “The main thing is that we will have an area that is conducive to law enforcement.”
There will be designated areas for processing prisoners, and processing and storing evidence, and locker rooms, he said.
“It’s very cost-effective,” Martin said of the new facility, estimating that it would have cost two to three times more to construct a new building.
Sing said they are re-using as many of the doors and as much hardware as possible in the renovation.
Neither the village hall staff nor the police department needs all the space in the new building, but they know they eventually will grow into it. The new site includes a conference room, village board room, mayor’s office and a lunch room — all features that were lacking in their current space.
There also will be a few added touches: an emergency generator, and fixed-mount TV cameras for board meetings, eliminating the need for a cameraman.
Once the move is completed, the historical society will take over the lower level of the current village hall to be developed as a museum, and the chamber of commerce will use the upstairs offices, Sing said.
Senior citizens will get a taste of the village’s new home on April 16 when the village and Manhattan Township jointly sponsor their quarterly senior luncheon there — free of charge.
The village’s plan to develop a municipal campus near the Metra train station has not been abandoned but is a longer-term plan for the future, given the economy, Sing said.
“We need the market to catch up to us,” he said.