“Jeans, sweatshirts and cardboard at new city hall”

"The new chair - ultramodern and comfortable. The workstation - more than functional, the very picture of ergonomics.Even the little under-the-desk tray for Diane Todd's computer keyboard goes up and down to accommodate the height of the user.I haven't figured out how this works, said Todd, a city finance department employee, fiddling with the keyboard stand. But I know I can raise it.She paused.It took us two hours to get the (computer) monitor on the monitor tray."

  • Friday, February 11, 2000 8:00pm
  • News

“The new chair – ultramodern and comfortable. The workstation – more than functional, the very picture of ergonomics.Even the little under-the-desk tray for Diane Todd’s computer keyboard goes up and down to accommodate the height of the user.I haven’t figured out how this works, said Todd, a city finance department employee, fiddling with the keyboard stand. But I know I can raise it.She paused.It took us two hours to get the (computer) monitor on the monitor tray.But after that, all that stood between Todd and a functional work environment Friday morning were boxes. Hundreds of them.About 60 city employees – everyone who isn’t a police officer, municipal court worker or public works laborer – descended on the new city hall building Friday, for the day-long job of unpacking and setting up shop.Befitting the task, dress code for the day was jeans and sweatshirts. Many employees hadn’t actually been inside the building, so its very layout was a mystery to be unraveled.Where’s the kitchen? asked payment clerk Gretchen Bohannon, as a co-worker strolled past with a pastry and coffee.The answer: behind you, just to the left of the main entrance. Across the way in the council chambers, construction workers hammered out eleventh-hour details. Rows of tools and jugs of carpet adhesive suggested a building not quite finished, but enough so to call it good for now.Upstairs, two stepladders towered in the executive department foyer, impeding traffic to the offices of the mayor and city administrator.I’ve been looking at it as another project for so long, it’s hard to look at it as a workplace, said Lynn Nordby, administrator, sitting behind a new and unusually neat desk. Indeed, the move has Nordby resolved to keep less paper, while others likewise pondered how to modify old routines to suit the new environs. Finance director Ralph Eells, with a relative luxury of space – maybe twice the 30 or so square feet of his old office – mulled his options.Everything was at my fingertips (in the old building), he said. It’s not, here.Plus, his telephone had gone MIA in the move.The new city hall opens for business at 8 a.m. Monday morning. The day will be marked by a formal flag-raising at noon on that day, with a local Cub Scout pack to perform the ceremony.Being under a single roof – and a permanent one – is a new experience for many who have joined the city in the last five or six years, since planning and public works were exiled to Hildebrand Lane. Todd expressed a certain melancholy for her previous space – a trailer outside the back door of the old building – but liked the new building.They take care of us. The city takes care of us, Todd said, before backpedaling.Don’t print that, she said. Someone will write a letter to the editor.”

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