BELLEAIR BEACH - Ken Lucci, a former member of the City Council who has raised a caution flag on the city's plans for a new $3.5 million city hall, has raised other things to think about before there is movement forward on the new building.
A few weeks ago, Lucci predicted that the police department would be gone within 36 months, and gave cogent reasons for that view.
Now he has come forward with a carload of reasons that he thinks those making the key decisions about the new city hall should take into account and think carefully about.
Lucci relates the planned size of the city hall - 12,000 square feet - to the number of people who would be working there and the utilitarian use of the building.
He points out that even if Belleair Beach should retain its own police force, the building would house a private office for the police chief as well as a private office for the sergeant and raises a question - "For what, I have no idea. He should be on the road 100 percent of the time."
Lucci wonders why the code enforcement officer, who he thinks ought to be on the road all the time, would also have a private office.
Then he ticks off the private offices for the city manager, which makes sense, the city clerk and the finance officer, as well as one for the assistant city manager (a position that seems to have crept into the picture after avowals in taking on a city manager that the manager would handle everything).
After counting a receptionist, Lucci makes the point that these eight people in a 12,000 square foot building will have, on the average, 1,500 square feet per person.
In dollar terms, the construction cost for the new building would work out to well more than $400,000 per person for those working in the new city hall.
If the police should go, then the figures would be all the more exaggerated in terms of individual staff space and the cost of creating a new work environment.
While space would obviously be lavish for those working there, Lucci says the new building as planned has no garage space for city vehicles or equipment.
He says the current plan is to park cars and city vehicles in a fenced in area, which could be an eye sore to residential neighbors, plus leaving the vehicles open to the elements of storms, wind, rain and hot sun.
Lucci also points out the aesthetics of a new city hall standing next to the existing building belonging to the telephone company (which will not be moved) and as he says, "the shack of a garage" on the lower elevation.
"These things have been completely ignored," Lucci says. "The city hall is going to be elevated above both these structures and will look horrible next to them. It's like ignoring two pigs sitting in your living room."
He also points out that construction of the new building faces escalating costs in steel and concrete because of "extreme weather last year, rebuilding in New Orleans and the Pensacola area, building in Iraq and the construction boom generally and labor constraints."
Though he has left office, Lucci says he has a concern for the city, particularly the taxpayers.
"I would rather go on record now as raising the flag of concern then staying silent and live with the consequences. I am absolutely for doing something with a new city hall but the cost is way out of line, the building as designed is not adequate for our operational needs in my view," he says.
Lucci says, "More time was spent discussing the city logo than analyzing this project by the last council - it was on the agenda six times."
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