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Community Theatre League to stay put

As Mayor Derek Slaughter looks at the option of relocating City Hall administration offices to Trade and Transit Centre I, one of the tenants expressed fear of being evicted.

The Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., occupies the first floor of the Trade and Transit Centre I, where it has a theatre-in-the-round playhouse.

“They aren’t going anywhere,” Slaughter said in a telephone interview this week with the Sun-Gazette. “Their (Community Theatre League) lease is good for 29 years.”

“We aren’t evicting them,” Council President Randall J. Allison said after an ad hoc committee on the City Hall building reviewed a conceptual blueprint plan.

The drawings were created for the committee by Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator, with assistance from Jon Sander, city engineer.

The drawings includes what was at City Hall, such as the mayor and mayoral staff and human resources director on third floor. On second floor in City Hall, the finance director, city clerk, controller and community development personnel and in the basement, the codes department. The police would remain in the City Hall, based on the sketches.

Then, Gerardi’s drawings show how the third floor and first floor of the Trade and Transit Centre I could become the new city administration headquarters by laying out a proposed office plan for the floors.

In that plan it shows third floor renovated to provide office space for a mayor, his assistant, city clerk, engineer, human resources, finance, controller, codes department and the city fire chief and fire department office manager.

The fire chief, department manager and codes would be moved there while waiting for a public safety building, Gerardi said.

In the third floor lobby would be a receptionist.

Besides CTL, the building once housed the offices of Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, before the chamber relocated its third floor offices to a former bank building at West Fourth and Pine streets in 2016, Gerardi said. That was when he issued the bank building an occupancy permit, he said.

Gerardi’s plan also had a layout design for the treasurer’s office which could be moved into a corner building on first floor on the opposite side of the Community Theatre League.

The corner building was formerly a restaurant and is closest to Pine Street, he said.

The treasurer/tax collector is among the most visited of city offices, Gerardi said.

It would make sense to have these offices on the first floor, which would be easily accessible and not require an elevator trip or walk up the stairs, Gerardi said.

The second floor of the transit building is being reserved for potential offices of CTL, Gerardi said.

For those requiring accessibility, the transit building is accessible with an elevator and zero-grade sidewalks, Gerardi said.

The drawings are just an idea at this point as the city looks to find solutions to accessibility problems in City Hall. Nothing has been decided, officials said.

No decisions would be made by a sketch or drawing, Allison noted.

“Any architectural renderings would be gone over fully by council and the mayor,” he said.

The Trade and Transit I building was constructed as a part of downtown renaissance in 2000. Now 20 years old, it would require some upgrades to make it into office space, Gerardi said.

Another consideration for officials for any move is decades of deferred maintenance at City Hall.

During heavy rain, there are leaks. Police Chief Damon Hagan recently told officials water was seeping into the concrete walls.

“It’s my understanding the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems require overhaul and may cost upward of $3 million,” said Councilwoman Liz Miele, chair of the city finance committee.

The accessibility features, including a ramp on the west side, connecting to a ramp at the rear, would involve an estimated $500,000 in additional costs, she said.

Gerardi said he thinks the City Hall package would cost a combined $3 million.

Besides the police, the rest of the building would be vacated and could be used for storage of city office materials and offices could be leased, Gerardi said.

Gerardi also drew up a conceptual design of a ramp and landscaping added to the west side of City Hall. The 40-foot ramp would then connect to the existing ramp at the rear of City Hall and provide entrance to the building via the police station.

The elevator at City Hall is working but requires button adjustment for those in wheelchairs and some additional braille on the controls, said Christopher Cooley, city information technology coordinator.

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