By Valerie Baldowski
The new Stockbridge City Hall is now open for business.
Employees were able to move into their new offices at 4640 North Henry Boulevard over the weekend, and by Monday morning, the doors of city government were opened.
The new facility is at the intersection of North Henry and East Atlanta Road, across the street from Stockbridge Elementary School.
The move provides relief from the cramped conditions municipal employees endured at the old facility, said City Manager Ted Strickland. "We've been overcrowded for about five years," Strickland said. "It's very nice that we'll be able to have a nice facility."
The building has about 29,300 square feet, which is significantly larger than the old 8,500-square-foot city hall. It has three floors, providing 11,000 square feet on the ground floor, 10,000 square feet on the first floor, and 8,000 square feet on the second floor. It also has capacity in the rear of the building to build out, providing an additional 3,000 to 4,000 square feet is needed, Strickland said.
The facility was needed, Strickland said, because of Stockbridge's population growth. The city outgrew the old city hall 12 years after it was built, he said.
"We're well prepared to handle the growth, as far as City Hall," Strickland said. Taking into account any new requirements the federal and state governments may hand down to the City of Stockbridge, the space will be useful, according to Strickland.
The new city hall should last for many generations, he said, and residents will appreciate the building once they see it for themselves. "It was really needed, [and] it's going to be an asset to the community," he said.
On Monday, most of the work had been done, except for installing locks on a few doors. A number of offices were still vacant, and one room was still unfinished, with carpeting covering the floor, but no furniture moved in yet.
Despite the last few details still needing to be completed, Strickland gave his approval to the building and its layout. "It worked out real well," he said. "We're still finishing up getting everything squared away and moving in."
The time span between the initial groundbreaking and the day the employees were able to move in was almost two years, he said.
The additional space for employees was sorely needed, agreed Charlene Cheatwood, a utility clerk supervisor, who has been with the city for 17 years.
"We are very excited, because we were so crowded at the other one," said Cheatwood. "We have more room than we did before."
The supervisor said she moved her files and documents into her new office on Friday night, and since then, has unpacked six of her eight boxes.
Cheatwood said she began working at City Hall, then located on Berry Street, in 1992.
To illustrate the growth in her department, she said when she first began working for the city, there were only 1,200 utility customers. Now, there are 6,900.
With the additional office space in the new building, she said the city might consider bringing in more employees. She said she blieves that, "As time goes on, we probably will."