FORTVILLE – A municipal headquarters is back in business after several months of conducting public meetings at a community center and working out of trailers while renovations were underway.
Not many items remain to be crossed off the list before concluding the remodel that started last spring. The project coincided with improvements to Fortville’s community center and Memorial Park, combining to a total of about $2.7 million.
Joe Renner, Fortville town manager, said the upgrades to Town Hall located at 714 E. Broadway allow for business to be conducted far more effectively than in the former setup.
“We represent the people, and when they came into the building, they had to cut through people’s offices to get to another conference room or something,” he said during a tour last week after the first Town Council meeting in the building in months. “It wasn’t very professional. This belongs to the town, the citizens.”
Town Hall’s main entrance has moved from its north side to its west, where there are new spaces for coming in to pay utility bills and other town-associated fees.
The new area for public meetings is larger and has audio and visual equipment allowing viewers to catch sessions live or watch archived recordings on the town’s YouTube channel. A partition wall can also be extended down the center of the room if a large crowd isn’t expected for a meeting or to create a smaller space for training and other activities.
New offices were created for the town’s clerk-treasurer, manager, planning and building director, and other staff. A new room for reviewing plans comes with a big table for spreading large documents over, and a new conference room is ready for meeting with developers and other groups.
Town Hall also has a new employee break room, common area with public restrooms, staff restrooms, mail room and rooftop solar panels to reduce energy costs.
The Fortville Police Department, also located at Town Hall, received renovations as well. They include a new supervisors’ room, chief’s office and interview room with a motion-activated camera.
Before the remodel, the police department conducted training in the building’s council chambers, something that was becoming increasingly difficult to schedule due to all of the other town boards and commissions regularly needing the space. Now, the FPD has its own training room.
A new squad room is equipped with a drug processing station and television monitor that will be able to display information helpful to officers, like public event schedules and start times for shifts. Fortville Police Chief Patrick Bratton will be able to update it remotely.
“So if there’s a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) from Madison County on a recent shooting, or Marion County, or whatever – missing person, missing child – I can go on and update the guys instantly,” Bratton said.
Other upgrades include a new evidence room, quartermaster room for excess supplies, officer break room and a gym that’s waiting on equipment. A reception area for the police department is expected to be up and running in January.
The building housing the town hall was built in 1977. It had housed a telephone company before the town bought it in the mid-1980s.
The Fortville Community Center at 400 W. Church St. received improvements to its roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It also got rooftop solar panels, a security camera system and improved access control to the building. Nearby Memorial Park received new lighting for its basketball and tennis courts.