The Pierce County Council’s offices will be given a $400,000 renovation starting in April to improve fire safety, increase security and make it easier for the public to come and go from council meetings.
The seven elected council members, their assistants and about 15 council staff members will have to move downstairs until the renovation is completed at the end of June.
The Council chambers are expected to remain open with limited availability during the project.
The council office area — on the 10th floor of the County-City Building, at 930 Tacoma Ave. S. — will get new carpet, paint, ceiling tile and lights, said Mike Poier, of the county’s Facilities Management Department.
The tile is old, and the carpet is “just old and worn out and needs to be replaced,” Poier said.
But officials say the changes are focused on fire safety and access and bringing them up to code – not on major aesthetic improvements in the areas where the council’s work is done.
Fire alarms and strobes will be added to office areas. (The closest alarms and strobes are currently in the elevator lobby.)
Round doorknobs will be replaced with lever handles for accessibility. Doors will be replaced as well.
The office area hasn’t been upgraded since the 1980s, Poier said.
Council members will be able to pick from several accent colors to go with a light beige paint to be applied throughout the area, Poier said. But they won’t get new furniture, he said.
About half of the estimated $400,000 cost will come from unspent 2011 facilities money for tenant improvements, said Poier, who manages the construction division. The other half is from the same fund for this year.
The improvements are part of a phased renovation that’s been under way at the County-City Building over the past seven years. The county is replacing single-pane windows with dual-pane insulated glass at a cost of $810,000, Poier said.
He said the 6,300-square-foot council office area is “one of the worst areas” in the 53-year-old building.
“It’s an area that needs to be done,” he said.
Bret Carlstad, facilities management director, said the area is worse than his department expected.
“We didn’t realize how out of date and antiquated their area was,” Carlstad said. “We just thought it was ugly.”
The changes will require nearly 30 employees to relocate to vacant space on the sixth floor for about three months.
The renovation will come in pieces:
• Entries and exits to and from the Council Chambers will be improved to “facilitate people coming and going without disrupting the council meetings,” Carlstad said. The entrance/exit will become two sets of double doors, Poier said. A space will be created so people can gather before and after their business with the council. That way, the council should be able to continue its meetings without having to pause because of noise, Carlstad said.
• The front-desk counter layout will be altered to better separate the public from the back-office area, improving security. A new counter will be installed.
• Work areas for council members’ assistants will be reconfigured so they’re next to their council member’s office. The assistants’ worn furniture will be replaced. The county usually buys used furniture from offices that have shut down, Carlstad said.
• A new conference room will be created so the council can move its study sessions from a conference table in the Council Chambers, which will make the chambers less crowded, Poier said.
Carlstad said he’d like to upgrade the Council Chambers itself, starting with replacing the old pews with movable seats.
“I think it needs a cosmetic face lift,” Carlstad said.
But there’s no money in the budget for that project.
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647