COVINGTON - The city of Covington is beginning the process of converting the planning and zoning and engineering building on Stallings Street into the City Hall and Municipal Court building. Officials hope to use proceeds from the sale of the current Police Station/Municipal Court building on Oak Street to fund the transition.
At the City Council’s recent retreat, City Manager Leigh Anne Knight updated them on the plans and got a consensus to move ahead.
The city purchased a building on Harland Drive last May and plans are underway to convert it into the new Covington Police Department headquarters. That would leave Municipal Court as the last city function in the old headquarters on Oak Street. At one time, almost all city services, including police, fire, and city hall, were located in the building.
“The thought process all along has been if we purchased the new police station, we would probably put that building up for sale,” said Knight. “I am not a fan of holding on to something that we have no need for.”
City staff developed a plan that would take the current planning and zoning building on Stallings Street and convert it into a combination council chambers and Municipal Court. The council has seen a need for a larger council meeting room as the last town hall meeting was standing room only, and Knight said the plan will take care of that.
“Renovation of the planning and zoning and engineering building would yield us 70 more spaces for chairs,” she said. “We would basically double the size of the courtroom and use it as the council chambers, too, used once a month for court and twice a month for council meetings.”
The city purchased the current City Hall building on Emory Street from Snapping Shoals EMC in 1993 and moved into it in 1994. Knight said renovation work will also be done on it, with the current council chambers being converted into offices for planning and zoning.
Knight estimates the total cost of the conversions at around $200,000.
“The most expensive part - $125,000 - is the renovation of planning and zoning, basically demolition and then building back the council room,” said Knight. “It is about $65,000 to renovate the council room that we currently have for planning and zoning, because we want to make access from there up into the interior of the lobby, so that the people located there don’t have to go through the lobby to get to everybody else. The remaining $10,000 is for renovations to the rest of the area, mainly taking down walls that were put up by us or by Snapping Shoals EMC when they were there, and repositioning them accordingly.”
The city manager said there is money in the current budget to start the process, and the city will have to have some money in next year’s budget to complete it. They hope with the sale of the Oak Street building after the police department moves out sometime later this year, that they can replenish the funds.