GRANITE FALLS — John Spencer, who has lived here for nearly three decades, walks to City Hall every month to pay his water bill.
He’s looking forward to beginning that tradition at the new Granite Falls City Hall — a building with air conditioning, unlike the old one.
“Up there where the city council meetings are now, and the planning commission meetings are now, it’s pretty hot,” he said.
Spencer, who was on the city council for a couple of years in the early 1990s and still attends meetings every so often, was among dozens who gathered Tuesday afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new City Hall on South Granite Avenue. It opens to the public 5 p.m. Wednesday. The previous building is just across the street.
Elected officials and those who call Granite Falls home formed a crowd on the new pavement, outside of the dark-stained wooden front doors.
The building was designed to resemble a train station, a nod to the history of the Monte Cristo mining tracks that once ran through town. Repurposed railroad ties decorate a trellis near the entrance.
City Manager Brent Kirk and Mayor Matt Hartman marked the opening by cutting a red ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors. Everyone cheered. It was a big deal for a small town.
Plans for the new City Hall started to form in 2009, and were set in motion a few years ago. At that time, the city bought two houses that used to be on the site. They were demolished to complete the project.
The old space was about 1,600 square feet. Council meetings were held up a flight of 21 stairs. Not everyone could make it there.
Designers made sure the new 7,600-square-foot building is completely accessible.
Dark wood accents frame the windows, reception area and city council chambers. All the new furniture came from moving Federal Aviation Administration offices, for a total price of $5,000. That saved about $120,000, Kirk said.
In all, construction costs were $3.9 million. The money came from a 15-year loan and city reserve funds.
On Tuesday, most of the center was still empty. A refrigerator was waiting to be installed in one of the break rooms. Employees haven’t moved in yet, but will soon.
More work to revitalize Granite Falls starts in fall.
At that time, the police station is set to be remodeled using a $412,000 grant that came from the state. It’s expected to look similar to the new City Hall.
Officers are expected to move into the former City Hall during construction. Once that’s complete, the American Legion may move into the old city building.
The legion’s current dilapidated structure isn’t safe to use anymore. The city plans to someday demolish it, to create an outdoor plaza.
City Hall is just the beginning of an upgraded downtown for everyone to enjoy.
“This is the anchor of it all,” Kirk said.