Marietta officials discuss meetings location

MARIETTA – City council members met as a committee of the whole Wednesday to discuss developing a permanent space where council and committee meetings could be held.

Council committee sessions are held in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St., while the twice-a-month regular council meetings are conducted in the community building at Lookout Park on Harmar Hill.

“My main objection to Lookout Park is that it’s too remote,” said council president Walt Brothers. “I would rather have a location closer to the downtown area.”

Neither of the meeting locations is easily accessible for people with disabilities, and committee meetings in the room at 304 Putnam St. are often overcrowded, forcing some attendees to stand or sit outside the room in an adjacent hallway.

Preliminary plans for renovation of Marietta’s City Hall building show a city council chambers or general meeting area in the basement, but council members on Wednesday did not support that location, noting access to the basement room would be difficult for the general public.

The possibility of creating council chambers in the renovated National Guard Armory was negated due to cost liabilities for the city.

“It looks like we’re coming down to a room in the basement of the new municipal court building (on the corner of Third and Butler streets) or a location on the first floor of the building across the way (at 308 Putnam St.),” Brothers said.

City engineer Joe Tucker said he had discussed the potential location of city council chambers in the above-ground basement area of the municipal court with Judge Janet Dyar Welch.

“I didn’t want to spend time working on plans for that area if it’s not going to be acceptable to the judge,” Tucker said. “But she was pretty busy at the time and said she would have to take some time to think about it.”

Brothers noted the ground floor of 308 Putnam St., which houses the city auditor and treasurer’s offices, would be available for a council chamber after those offices move to the city hall building once renovations are completed there.

“I think we should look at both of those locations,” he said. “But I would look at the municipal court location first.”

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said if 308 Putnam is selected it would require renovation of that building and a new roof, which would be costly.

Tucker agreed.

“The financial analysis would favor the municipal court area,” he said. “Then the city could sell 308 Putnam and not be burdened with future operation and maintenance costs there.”

Brothers said he would approach Welch about the possibility of locating the chambers at the municipal court site.