Monday, October 8, 2012

A new City Hall for Kerrville

Kerrville's new City Hall, 2012
The rumors I've heard about the county government moving the cannon, which is currently on courthouse square at the corner of Main and Earl Garrett streets, to the corner of Main and Sidney Baker streets, so it will face the new Kerrville City Hall -- well, those rumors are completely untrue. They tell me moving the cannon across the courthouse square is not necessary; all that is needed is to swivel it slightly and take out the plug from its muzzle. The little cannon has more than enough range to hit the new city hall from its current location.
All joking aside, this next Thursday, October 11th, the city government will celebrate a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly completed city hall.
Having city government directly across the street from the county courthouse might just improve relations between the two governments, which we taxpayers would applaud.
Several weeks ago John M. Mosty and I, along with some members of the Kerrville Daily Times editorial department, got a tour of the new building. Mindy Wendele was our tour guide.
Though the building was still in the chaos of construction, I can tell you I was impressed by what I saw.
The offices look roomy and well-lit, with plenty of windows. The layout seems conducive to efficient public use -- from the department responsible for water payments, to the offices dedicated to the Texas Main Street program.
The city council chambers, with dark wood paneling behind the dais, look pretty snazzy, and from what I saw, a lot of new technology is being installed to help make city council meetings easily available to the public -- both for those in attendance at the meeting, or those who choose to view the proceedings on television.
Special attention has been made to make the facility accessible to handicapped citizens, a point which is required by law, but which has been thoughtfully carried out in the design.
My friend Peter Lewis, whose firm designed the building, did a great job. The building is much nicer than the current city hall -- but not so extravagant to suggest waste. A lot of thought obviously went into the design.
There are two floors in the building -- the first floor will house most of the offices frequently visited by the public, like the water department; the second will house most of the administrative offices, including a suite that contains the offices of the city manager, the senior staff, and the city attorney.
Walking through the front door (which faces the back of the Schreiner Mansion), one enters a two-story atrium. I noticed when standing there you can see the new clock tower through one of the upper windows. Again, with plenty of windows, the lobby has lots of light, and is very welcoming.
A member of our tour party and I left the main group and climbed up on the roof of the building, something which shouldn't surprise any of you who know me. Up there, in the bright morning sun we looked out over the city. Toward Water Street, we saw the row of buildings which hold so much of our community's history. Toward Main Street, the courthouse. Toward Earl Garrett Street, the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, and the recently renovated Charles Schreiner Mansion.
Our community had its usual debate about the wisdom of building a new city hall in the heart of downtown, a discussion that was healthy, necessary, and appropriate. Afterwards, the decision was made, the building is now built, and will soon be dedicated to the public.
To paraphrase John Adams, who wrote, in a letter to his wife, a special prayer for the newly finished White House in Washington: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this [City Hall], and upon all that shall hereafter [serve here]. May none but honest and wise [persons] ever [serve] under this roof."
That's my prayer for the newly constructed Kerrville City Hall.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who spent two interesting years in the hot seat at the former city hall on Junction Highway, many years ago.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 6, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I think the new city hall is so beautiful and such a boost to the appearance of downtown. I am eager to see the inside as well. Very funny about the cannon :^).


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