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Renovation of City Council Chambers begins Thursday

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 18 2013 11:07:30 PM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Say goodbye to City Council chambers inside Allentown's City Hall.

Demolition is set to begin Thursday on the interior of the meeting room.

City Council will be meeting outside City Hall, at least through October, until renovations to its chambers are complete.

Those renovations will include a larger and higher dais, perhaps commanding more respect from residents who attend City Council meetings.

The rows of uncomfortable, bolted-in-place blue and turquoise seats for the public will be gone, replaced by chairs that can be moved.

The carpeting also will be replaced.

City managing director Francis Dougherty said the new dais will have more seats, so the city controller and city clerk also will sit up there with council. Both now sit at a table facing City Council in the front of the room.

Dougherty, who attends all council meetings, said he will not have a seat on the dais.

He said the new chairs in the room will not be attached to the floor, but can be moved around to make it a “bona fide community room for public meetings.”

Dougherty said the room also is getting new multi-media capabilities, with a number of LED screens. One of those screens may be outside the room for those occasions when issues before council draw an overflow crowd.

Dougherty said the two shield-like plaques that hang in the front of the room and bear the city’s traditional seal “will be incorporated where appropriate.”

Dougherty said many features in the room, including the seats, are unchanged since City Hall was built nearly 50 years ago.

Council president Julio Guridy said the wood-paneled wall in the front of the room will be replaced by a stone facade. He said the new dais will be horseshoe-shaped. He also said other walls will be painted.

And he believes whichever assistant city solicitor attends council's meetings also will sit on the dais.

City Council’s next meeting on Oct 2 will be in the quarters of Mountainville Memorial Association at 1814 S. 5th St. in south Allentown.

Council’s Oct. 16 meeting will be in the West End Youth Center, at 848 N. 20th St. in west Allentown.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, Guridy said the renovation of council’s City Hall meeting room will be completed by council’s first meeting in November.

“I hope,” said Dougherty.

At the end of the meeting, Dougherty could not put a price tag on the cost to renovate Council chambers.

No one mentioned mold Wednesday night, but plans to renovate council chambers for mold remediation were announced more than a year ago by Dougherty