The new Cortez City Hall is officially open for business, and the government is eager to show it off to the public.
On Friday, City Manager Shane Hale gave a tour of the building, at 123 N. Roger Smith Ave., to local news agencies like The Journal and Mesa TV. He and other city officials had already conducted dozens of tours for school children and other interested town residents, and the city has been using the building to conduct public meetings for about a week. But the official grand opening won’t be held until March 17.
During the tour, Hale highlighted ways the new building improves on the old one. Once home to The Journal offices and printing press, it’s more than twice the size of the old City Hall, at more than 27,000 square feet. The extra space has allowed the city to put in more meeting rooms, bigger city council room and more spacious offices. More than 6,000 square feet of space is unused at the moment, but Hale said it could come in handy as the city grows.
“We believe strongly that this is the public’s building, and we’re just kind of stewards of this building,” Hale said. “It will be open for a lot of public use.”
He said City Hall’s new layout is designed for easy access, with the departments that interact most with town residents, like Planning and Building, positioned close to the main entrance. Also located just inside the main entrance is what is now called the Mesa Verde Room, a meeting space that the city plans to make available to nonprofits and community groups. A training room in the back of the building will also be available for some public events.
According to special events coordinator Jonathon Brooks, the city’s renovations to the building included several energy and cost-saving measures, like lights and outlets activated by motion sensors. About 13 percent of the building’s power comes from solar panels on the roof, and the building is lit by LED lights, which Brooks said consume 62 percent less energy than the minimum required by the building code.
Some renovations were aesthetic. The city has installed skylights and solar tubes throughout the building to let in as much natural light as possible. One huge skylight was decorated with a stained glass picture of the Four Corners, created by local artist Stephen Hanson. Paintings on loan from other local artists line the halls and meeting rooms throughout the building, and one wall even has a display of art by Montezuma-Cortez High School students. Some parts of the building also have old photographs of historic Cortez, and artifacts on loan from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.
“We’re trying to bring in as much from the community into this building as possible,” Hale said.
Overall, the building’s renovation cost $2.8 million, according to Mayor Karen Sheek, and took almost two years to complete. Hale said the city has a few more details to sort out, like putting a new coat of asphalt on the parking lot and painting parallel parking spaces on Roger Smith Avenue, but otherwise it’s ready for use.
The city will host an official open house for the new building on Friday, March 17. Public tours will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a dedication ceremony at 5 p.m. The first city council meeting in the new building will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday,