The old Columbus City Council Chamber at 1369 25th Ave. served its purpose for many years, but oftentimes wasn’t the easiest for meetings. That was even more obvious when hot-topics were discussed.
“The old chamber was crowded,” Second Ward City Councilman Troy Hiemer recalled “It felt like we were on top of each other.”
Third Ward City Councilman Ron Schilling echoed that sentiment, noting how things always felt cramped.
“The wall was pretty close to us,” Schilling said, adding how he and Councilman Hiemer had seats almost right up against the wall on the left side of the council seating.
But that’s all in the past. On Wednesday, July 5th, the Columbus City Council had its first-ever meeting in its new chamber on the third level of the Columbus Community Building, 2500 14th St. The building, which will also house a new City Hall, Columbus Public Library, the Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus Area Children’s Museum and a coffee shop, is now open. The City of Columbus will host a grand opening of the building from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, July 8th. Learn more about the previously-announced event here.
The Council had a stacked agenda on July 5th, talking about a lot of topics that will be highlighted in the coming days. Among them was sharing an email sent from Platte County (received June 30th) in response to the City Council’s request to let it know its plan to proceed to resolve a rural EMS dilemma. Bulkley read aloud the email from Platte County Chairperson Kim Kwapnioski.
“On June 20th, 2023, in response to the position taken by the City of Columbus on June 5th, 2023, the Platte County Board of Supervisors passed a motion in favor of pursuing the option of a vote regarding an emergency medical services levy in Platte County, excluding area in Platte County that are within the Columbus city limits, taking into consideration the costs, the affects and impacts on all parties involved,” Bulkley read from the email. “The intent of this motion was to continue to demonstrate that Platte County is acting in good faith and is in compliance with the City’s June 5th, 2023, request that the County takes steps to address this issue by July 1st, 2023.”
Council also discussed and OK'd a plan to make parks and recreation its own department, removing it from the umbrella of the City's public property division. Learn more about that by clicking here.
But before the meeting got underway, council members seemed to be pleased with the more open chamber that overlooks Frankfort Square and provides ample space for City officials and members of the public.
“I think it’s absolutely outstanding. It’s more than I anticipated,” Schilling said. “This is a nice, usable space. It’s going to be good."
“I think this will do us good,” he said.
The Columbus Community Building came to fruition after voters in the November 2020 general election approved the issuance of bonds not to exceed $10 million to be paid by the half-percent sales tax (approved by voters in 2016). The City Hall portion is covered using the City's general fund revenue.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Council members Troy Hiemer, left, Ron Schilling and Charlie Bahr; Mayor Jim Bulkley, City Administrator Tara Vasicek; Council President Beth Augustine-Schulte, and Council members J. Prent Roth and Rich Jablonski in the new Council Chamber on the third-level of the Columbus Community Building.)