Marietta City Hall changes more visible

MARIETTA – Sounds of sawing and clanging are filling Marietta City Hall, as work on renovations totaling nearly $2.7 million is becoming more visible.

City Engineer Joe Tucker said renovations are moving pretty quickly, but there were some challenges.

“It’s challenging to do (construction) while the building is occupied,” he said.

Some departments had already been shifted in the building, such as Marietta police dispatch, which had already moved because of a roof issue. Parts of the first floor and all of the second floor are under construction.

The noise, which was at first bothersome, has become the norm according to Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp. The sound of saws is especially loud as crews get rid of asbestos on the second floor.

“It’s echoing down through the ceiling,” Hupp said. “Is it annoying? You get used to it.”

Hupp said a lot of work was going on in the old court and jail area but added the construction was “not having an impact on anything” in day-to-day business.

Jim Wark, senior project manager for Pickering Associates and consultant for the city, said one thing that’s slowed construction is asbestos pipe insulation.

“The asbestos pipes were embedded in the masonry wall,” Wark said, adding that they were effectively hidden until the major renovation.

Tucker said that while the police department currently resides in the basement, that would change when Phase I construction ends in April.

“They’re laying out a new configuration (on the second floor) to accommodate the police department, auditor’s office and the IT department and its server room,” he said.

Tucker added that because the police would permanently occupy the second floor, the doors would be set up for a card swipe system so the public wouldn’t be able to access areas like evidence storage. Tucker said once construction is complete and the police department is moved out of the basement, the basement layout will change.

“A lot of the police department is in the basement in the 100-year flood plain,” Tucker said. “The basement will serve as temporary storage, locker rooms, and I think a break room is planned, but there will be no offices.”

Tucker added that many of the materials that will be used in reconfiguring the basement will be flood-proof or flood-resistant things that can be easily cleaned up after a flood.

He said maintenance on the inside isn’t all that will be done.

“We’ll be dressing up and doing rehab on the cupula on top of the roof,” Tucker said. “A lot of the windows have been broken out. A lot of people may not notice it…It’s a historic building that needed some TLC.”

Once the construction is complete, the mayor’s office will still be on the first floor, as will the treasurer and IT department.

Jarrod Schultheisz, project manager and engineer for the city, said that construction is worth doing correctly the first time.

“It’s like restoring a car; if you’re going to do it, do it right,” he said.

Tucker said as a final part of the project, there is a hope to bring back some art and culture from Campus Martius: murals painted when the courthouse opened in 1936 that show Indians and when the settlers first arrived in Marietta, which were originally displayed in City Hall.

Tucker said that while the murals weren’t totally historically accurate, they were a piece of Marietta’s history. Tucker is looking at grants for the money to ensure the murals will be protected during the time they are displayed.

“The final phase is to bring them back to City Hall and feature them as they were meant to be,” he said.