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City employees countdown to new digs

The city of Poulsbo’s fire department camps out at Poulsbo’s city hall, circa 1942. - Courtesy Photo
The city of Poulsbo’s fire department camps out at Poulsbo’s city hall, circa 1942.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

POULSBO — It’s T minus roughly one month until a groundbreaking on Poulsbo’s new city hall project at the corner of Third Avenue and Moe Street. While the city council and citizens both discuss the new building’s price tag, city employees are looking forward to the new digs.

The current city hall structure sits on Jensen Way, near where the new building will go. Erected in 1941, the city government center has a unique history of its own, having served as a fire station for many years, and having housed not just the mayor’s office and council chambers, but the city’s library and police force as well.

Now home to nearly 40 city workers, just about every corner of the building has been turned, sometimes in makeshift fashion, into usable space. But that space, clearly, is running low.

“We’ve modified multiple closet spaces into office spaces,” said executive assistant Carly Michelson on an afternoon tour through city hall. One office was previously a holding cell for the police department. While passing a small broom closet filled with buckets and other cleaning supplies, she joked, “if we stay here any longer, this will probably become an office too.”

The air becomes noticeably thicker upon descent into the building’s basement, where city clerk Nicole Stephens has her office. Though the space, like much of city hall, has been brightened with colorful paint, she’s made a habit of turning on a humidifier to help make the air more breathable. Cracking open the windows is a summertime must as well.

“It’s like any building, it has the normal wear and tear,” Michelson said, adding one little quirk: “Every room has a different temperature.”

She said the Public Works crews have been responsible for keeping up the building, and applauded their work. It’s work she said can also be seen in the Poulsbo Police Department, where new carpeting and paint, among other improvements, have made for an impressive makeover.

Thirteen-year office clerk Kati Diehl said she looks forward to having everything needed within proximity to her workspace once moved into the new city hall. It can be quite a task, especially when processing passport applications, for which citizens are taken down two flights of stairs to the nearest uninterrupted meeting space.

They’re often amazed at the deep, maze-like quality the offices have, and sometimes have trouble navigating the staircase, she said.

“I think (employees) will be more excited when they actually see a building or something to that effect,” Diehl added, saying hopes for the new structure are definitely high.

The new civic structure is planned for an early 2010 opening. To view information about the city’s project, visit cityofpoulsbo.com and click on the City Hall Project link. The price tag for the project was last estimated at $16.9 million.

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