Members of the Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, voted to approve a Resolution placing on the Nov. 3rd General Election ballot, a bond measure asking citizens to approve paying for the restoration of the historic ballroom/theater and the creation of a multi-purpose facility on the second and third floors of the City Hall building. The cost of the bond would not exceed $875,000, and would be paid for through Local Option Sales Tax (or, “LOST”) funds.
Design Alliance has placed the cost of work for the project at around $933, 000. The Council approved $100,000 during the last bond issuance, for the installation of an elevator that makes the second floor accessible. About $10,000 of those funds have been reserved to compensate Design Alliance for their services to the City. City officials say the remaining $90,000 can be credited to the project, bringing the needed funds to around $841,097.
City Administrator John Lund says he requested the bond on the ballot measure be increased to $875,000, to cover any contingencies or unanticipated costs associated with work on the project, because contractors have warned him the building’s age may be concealing major problems that won’t be known until after work begins.
Special fixtures for the auditorium, such as a stage curtain, lighting and audio-visual equipment, and any unforeseen circumstances, could be paid for through an extra bond next year, but Mayor Dave Jones said the City needs to stick within its budget. More than a few people, he said, have been interested in offering additional financial support, should it become necessary.
Prior to a vote on approving the Resolution, Design Alliance Architect firm representative Jerry Purdy and his colleague Kristofer Orth made a presentation on the proposed project, which a Taskforce has been reviewing issues pertaining to, for the past six-months. Purdy said the task force and others made it clear, they don’t want any changes in the structure to detract from its historic appearance. Among the top priorities of the Task Force was an elevator to make the second and third floors ADA compliant, along with rest rooms, and possibly a kitchen.
Among the proposed changes to the building is an elevator that would come from the basement, where a machine room would also be located. On the ground level floor above that, a portion of the Mayor’s office and the Police lobby would be used to make room for the elevator. On the second floor, the ballroom space would be renovated and restored for performances. That includes renovating the stage and dressing rooms. A conference room, space for storage of tables and chairs and a serving kitchen for banquet purposes would also be made available. A new restroom has also been designed for the second floor. The floor and facilities would be designed to accommodate up to 300 people. A secondary means of egress would also be necessary to evacuate persons from the building, if necessary.
On the third floor, there would be storage for entertainment props, balcony seating would be restored, and a space on the northeast side could be used for a coffee shop or museum/gallery for local artists, and a restroom.
In other business, the Atlantic City Council held the first readings of Ordinances amending the City’s Code of Ordinances, with regard to “Fiscal Management and Accountability,” and “Provisions pertaining to Mayor and Council Compensation.” Both ordinances requires two more readings before they are passed. John Lund says the last time the Council’s compensation was considered was in 1994, with the Mayor’s salary having been adjusted 18-years ago.