Meadville Tribune

October 5, 2012

New City Hall: Inside will be finished; outside, not so much

By Mary Spicer

MEADVILLE — When the doors open on Oct. 29 and the first day of business in Meadville’s new City Hall begins, the makeover of the historic brick structure on Diamond Park that once served as an armory won’t be quite complete.

Inside, everything is expected to be finished and new furniture is scheduled to be in place, City Manager Joe Chriest said Thursday. Outside, however, is a different story.

For starters, the distinctive glass blocks dominating the front facade scheduled to be replaced with windows more in keeping with the historic design of the building will still be in place.

According to Chriest, plans now call for the new windows to be in place by the end of November. “There were some issues back and forth with the windows,” Chriest said, noting that after the contract was awarded, the original design submitted by the contractor failed to meet project specifications.

While the building’s future lawn may still be mud, a new front sidewalk leading to the main entrance overlooking Diamond Park will allow easy access to the city’s administrative offices as well as Meadville Redevelopment Authority’s offices on the second floor. The main entrance to Meadville Police Department’s new headquarters on the ground floor will also be complete. The police department will be entered from West Center Street.

The rear of the building will still be a construction zone, with work expected to continue well into November on a stairway, police garage and parking lot. “The garage should be ready for complete occupancy by the end of the year,” Chriest said.

For Chief Dave Stefanucci, the sooner the better.

During Meadville City Council’s recent work session, Stefanucci urged council to move forward with the garage now instead of waiting until the spring construction season begins.

Noting that the department includes nine police vehicles, Stefanucci explained that the department uses the protective environment of the garage, especially during the winter months, to thaw vehicles out, charge batteries, add fluids, clean interiors, change flat tires and store tires. When it comes to transporting prisoners and undercover operations, the garage provides a necessary level of security. “I don’t know of a single police department that doesn’t have a garage,” he said. “I can’t go through the winter without a garage.”

Council agreed. Immediately following Stefanucci’s presentation, council unanimously gave the go-ahead to proceed with steps necessary to complete the project.

Tentative transition schedule

Plans currently call for administrative functions at Meadville’s current city building on Water Street to end on Oct. 24. Allowing three business days for final packing and moving, city business will resume in the new City Hall on Diamond Park on Oct. 29, City Manager Joe Chriest said Wednesday.

At noon on Oct. 25, Meadville Police Department will begin operating from the ground floor of City Hall, Chriest said.

While Meadville Area Magisterial District Judge William Chisholm’s lease at the current city building runs through the end of the calendar year, Chriest said that plans call for scheduled hearings to continue through the end of October. “By Election Day, Nov. 6, their move will be complete. They’ll be open for business the day after.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at