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City Hall remodel builds up anger

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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When Rocklin resident and business owner Jack Reddy heard about the new plans to remodel City Hall he said his anger forced him to go down to the city to look at the plans. “I thought it was very odd that we were doing something to that building in today’s environment when we don’t have money and we’re laying people off, but spending money,” Reddy said. The estimated $191,489 plan includes adding an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restroom, convert the upstairs restroom and copy room into an office, add a galley kitchen and reconfigure the reception area using new furniture. Construction crews will also replace the front entrance ramp with a new ramp that meets current ADA requirements and add a rear entrance at the back of the building, which will also serve as a secondary emergency exit. “I looked at the plans and they are moving air conditioners,” Reddy said. “They’re doing a ton of exterior and mechanical work to a 100-year old building.We need to make sure that we know how our tax dollars are being spent.” According to the city, no money will come out of the general fund as the project will be paid for using two federal grant programs the city will receive from the Housing and Urban Development and Workforce Housing grant programs. “We lose track of the concept, ‘Oh, it’s okay, the money comes from Washington,’ but it’s still tax dollars,” Reddy said. According to Mayor Scott Yuill, one reason the city wants to upgrade the bathroom is public agencies throughout the region are being targeted by special interest groups who are filing complaints and lawsuits over non-ADA compliant facilities and he wants to insulate the city from litigation. “This modest upgrade satisfies the federal requirement,” Yuill said. “If the building isn’t updated to adhere to ADA law, the city is vulnerable to a lawsuit that could cost our taxpayers thousands of dollars.” Reddy understands the need to comply with ADA regulations, but he said that’s where the remodel should have ended. “If we have to comply to the handicap rulings, that’s fine, build a ramp. You don’t need to add a break room and a kitchen,” Reddy said. “The new city manager is not going to be whipping up a dinner for me in this galley kitchen.” Reddy thinks the city council means well but is not thinking about the big picture. “How many people have we laid off in the last year? You mean to tell me that in the building 20 feet away there isn’t room for the (city manager’s) cubicle,” Reddy said. There is more than enough space. Give the City Hall to the historical society.” While the Rocklin Historical Society has asked to take the 98-year-old building over as a museum, the city council refused due to their commitment to keep the building as the center of the city’s administration. Staff in City Hall will be relocated during construction, because as the city report points out, there is “ample office space available in the Administration Building and the modular buildings located behind the fire station.” Yuill said using the federal funds is necessary for a building that hasn’t been updated since 1982. “The city isn’t spending local tax money or General Fund money that competes for services in the city,” Yuill said. “There are specific restrictions on how the funds can be used, and ADA access and compliance is one of the highest priorities. It’s important to note that if the city doesn’t use this federal money, it loses it, and jeopardizes receipt of future federal funds.” Reddy said the city needs to hear from more citizens like him who are still hurting from the great recession. “I’m not remodeling my business, I’m closing it down,” Reddy said. Construction is expected to start Dec. 6 and will last about two months.