Taylorsville City Hall undergoing multi-million-dollar facelift, inside and outSep 22, 2020 03:20PM ● By Carl Fauver
As construction of the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center approaches completion, the open area west of it (foreground) is now being transformed into Taylorsville City Hall “front yard.” (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
As the $39 million Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center continues to take shape this fall—southeast of Taylorsville City Hall (2600 W. 5400 S.)—the urgency to improve and landscape the open land west of the new Salt Lake County-owned facility is becoming more acute. The race is now on to see both the arts center and the open space completed over the next few months.
This “race to the finish” is something city officials were aware of and preparing for long before coronavirus turned lives upside down.
But now on top of the outside work, the federal government has created a new deadline for the city. And Mayor Kristie Overson said this one is completely due to COVID-19.
“The city has received more than a million dollars from the federal government to fund improvements to combat coronavirus,” Overson said. “This came as a one-time chunk of money that we must spend by the end of the year or return to the federal government. So, now, before the end of 2020, we are doing some remodeling inside city hall, in addition to the landscaping and other changes that are coming outside.”
If it sounds like a lot to get done in a short amount of time, it is. That’s why you’re glad you aren’t new Taylorsville City Engineer Ben White. Less than a year on the job—and the city’s first in-house engineer in six years—it’s White’s job to oversee this glut of projects.
“Ben and I worked together at (civil engineering firm) Forsgren (Associates Inc.) about 20 years ago, and I was always very impressed with his work,” said City Manager John Taylor. “We have kept in touch, and it seemed like the time was right earlier this year to hire an in-house city engineer. Good municipal engineers are hard to come by.”
White started with the city back in February, when the virus was still “somebody else’s problem.”
For the record, Taylor began his relationship with Taylorsville City back in 2007 as the city’s contract engineer while working for Forsgren. Later, he was hired as the city’s in-house engineer, before being named city manager in 2014. Since then, until White’s hiring, city leaders again contracted engineering services out-of-house with Forsgren.
“I had been working as the city engineer in West Bountiful for 10 years when J.T. [Taylor] and I discussed taking the job in Taylorsville,” White said. “I am enjoying this, although it has been harder [than my previous job] in some ways. The population of West Bountiful is about 7,000, compared to 62,000 in Taylorsville. But I am enjoying it and look forward to each day.”
Just a few months after White assumed his post, word came from the federal government that the “spend-it-or-lose-it” money was coming to the city. It was his job to help city officials determine how the funding could be spent most effectively, and then to secure the contractors necessary to complete the work on time.
“I started with the city a month before ‘social distancing’ became the phrase we are all familiar with now,” White said. “Once we learned the [federal] money was coming, we discussed which areas inside city hall are most in need of improvement, to create more social distancing and a safer work environment.”
For starters, city officials have decided to make their main city hall doors, on the north and south sides of the building, “hands free.” As part of the upgrade, the entries will be retrofitted with doors that automatically open as visitors approach.
Additionally, White said the east end of city hall’s second floor also needs COVID-19 upgrading, because so many members of the public conduct business there.
“That area is for community and economic development staff and planners—an area that draws many people, checking on building permit issues and things like that,” White explained. “We are completely remodeling that area, to create more separation between employees. We’ll also use glass to create an enclosed space for the main reception area. And we will create two computer terminals where members of the public can make various requests—because so much of our work is done online now—with a staff person there to assist if needed.”
The final interior improvements initially planned include also glassing in the main reception area on the second-floor west end, where the mayor, city manager and other offices are located.
“I’m not sure what the final cost of the remodel will be but probably a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” White said.
To get the remodel design work done quickly, the city has contracted PGA&W Architects Inc. of Murray. Company owner and President Chris Pastor lived in Taylorsville about 15 years and watched all three of his children graduate from Taylorsville High School. He says his company’s history of working on projects in the city goes back a generation.
“We have done designs and schematics for both of the fire stations in Taylorsville, along with things at the senior center and in the city courtroom,” Pastor said. “We enjoy working with Taylorsville City because the people are great to work with; they know what they want and the city is small enough that we can get answers quickly.”
The architectural designs were scheduled to be completed in early October. Hogan & Associates Construction of Centerville will complete the work. This is the same company contracted to complete the outside improvements and landscaping.
“We actually do more projects like the inside work than what we are doing outside city hall,” said Project Manager Eddy Hogan. “When the city said they are on a tight deadline, we agreed to renegotiate our bid on the outside work to also include completing the changes they want inside. There should be no problem getting all the inside work done by the end of the year.”
As for the outside work, at press time city officials still weren’t sure exactly how much of it would get done on the initial build, because funding was coming up short. The plan is to fill most of the open space with grass sod. But other planned amenities, as money allows, will include stone entryway walls that include cascading water, an amphitheater, restrooms, a concession area, a children’s playground, an ice-skating area, benches and sidewalks.
“To get everything completed outside city hall the construction contract is $4.6 million,” Taylor said. “But we only have $3 million for the project now, so some of the improvements may be delayed. We care confident we can get the additional funding from various agencies that assist with these kinds of projects. We are also looking into selling naming rights for some of the features, particularly the playground and skating rink.”
The official grand opening and ribbon cutting for the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center and the other outside improvements had long been planned for this December, a full four years after county officials first announced the project. But arts center construction delays due to coronavirus have put those plans on hold.
At this time, it is not yet clear when the ribbon cutting will be held. But city officials say they are excited the changes will now also include city hall interior upgrades, designed to improve safety for both employees and the public.