Council Votes to Enhance City Hall Entrance for Public Access

STRATHROY - During the February 20 council meeting, council made a pivotal decision regarding public access to City Hall. The discussion, initiated by CAO Trisha McKibbin, revolved around the reopening of City Hall's front doors to enhance public accessibility while ensuring the safety and security of all visitors, staff, and council members.

Council evaluated multiple pathways for public entry as part of the broader initiative to make City Hall more accessible. Among the options presented in the report, Option #2 was specifically highlighted and eventually approved. This approved option entails a strategic routing for visitors entering through City Hall's front doors, guiding them down the hallway to an elevator, which then takes them to the lower level where the customer service desk is located. The implementation of Option #2 involves a series of necessary alterations to ensure compliance with safety standards and maintain a high level of customer service. These include:

· Installing tempered glass in four doors to enhance security and visibility, with costs ranging from $600 to $800.

· Closing off two former service counters with drywall and insulation, amounting to $2,000.

· Equipping office doors with fob readers for controlled access, totaling an expense of $12,500.

· Ensuring emergency exits are integrated and accessible, which could incur costs between $2,000 and $5,000.

· Updating internal signage and window film to guide visitors and secure private areas, estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.

Deputy Mayor Mike McGuire, who initially proposed the motion, clarified his intent for Option #2, emphasizing safety and operational efficiency. He advocated for using the elevator to access the customer service area, avoiding potential safety issues associated with using stairs for public access.

The council's decision to proceed with Option #2 underscores a commitment to improving public access to City Hall while addressing logistical and safety concerns. This approach not only facilitates easier access for residents seeking municipal services but also aligns with the council's objectives of enhancing public engagement and transparency. The funding for these alterations will be drawn from existing budget allocations earmarked for town hall improvements, ensuring that the project aligns with fiscal responsibilities.

David Gomez, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner