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BPW OKs design for updates at Monroe City Hall
The outside of City Hall is shown as proposed under a plan approved by the Board of Public Works Monday. (Image by McGowan Architecture)
MONROE - Monroe's City Hall will get newly designed stairways, fresh cement and more greenery under a plan approved by the Board of Public Works on Monday.

The plan was the third of three options presented by Patrick McGowan of McGowan Architecture, New Glarus.

The option, ultimately chosen by both aldermen Tom Miller and Charles Koch, incorporates the circular look of the main stairs headed up to council chambers. McGowan created half-sphere stairs beginning from the front sidewalk, with a terrace separating the two levels. A jutting set of rectangular stairs heads to the left, leaving a clear option for visitors to either walk up to council chambers or toward City Hall offices.

A canopy was also included in each design. The covering will be placed over the ramp leading from the sidewalk down to the Parks and Recreation Department, located on the lower level on the left side of the building.

The first option was a simple improvement to the concrete and additional landscaping, essentially bringing in new light fixtures and trees with additional signs indicating which door visitors should use.

The second option deviated slightly. In it, McGowan replaced the right-facing stairs with a sloping grass bed to lead guests up the stairs to the left, and toward the main entrance for City Hall business. McGowan said this option was not as conducive to improvements because it did not maintain the symmetrical outline of the building.

The city was first given options for a remodeling project at the end of July. Options for the project ranged from $70,000 to replace the crumbling concrete to $2.23 million for a new design including interior stairs, an elevator and public restrooms.

After city staff hosted open houses throughout November with limited participation, aldermen requested estimates for fixing the outside of the building, where concrete has crumbled from steps and unsteady, rusted railings serve only as decoration. This was a measure to renovate for safety rather than a large remodeling project. They also wanted to remove asbestos from the building, which had been making itself known through a handful of cracked flooring tiles. In January, council members agreed the asbestos should be removed before it became an urgent issue. They also said they needed to fix the outside of City Hall before next year. After McGowan met with the Board of Public Works, members requested he bring back a variety of options for the simple replacement of concrete and improvements to the front of the building.

Both Koch and Miller advised city staff to send out requests for proposals to find out how viable the third option would be with their current plans. Once the city receives offers with costs and scheduling, Monroe Common Council can look at approving the proposal.

City Administrator Phil Rath said the city hopes to schedule the work to immediately follow the election on Aug. 9 and to finish by the end of October. Plans to improve the inside of the building have also been planned for during that time, including removing floor tiles with asbestos. He added that during roughly six weeks of work, city employees would have to be relocated to other buildings, such as the street department.