DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Monday, the Des Moines City Council voted to approve an additional $1.5 million dollars for the City Hall Improvements Project. While more funding was approved, not all council members were on board with spending more money to renovate the old building. "From the very beginning, I said that this was exactly what was going to happen and I was assured that this wasn`t the case," said Council Member Joe Gatto. "The city hall project`s, in my opinion, has been an entire nightmare from the very beginning," he said.
Gatto and Skip Moore were the only council members who voted against spending more time and money on renovating city hall. "I`ve been receiving a lot of inquiries from the residents of Des Moines as to when are we going back to city hall and then up jumps the devil, we`re gonna add 72 calendar days to this project. I`m gonna vote no on this just as a protest. I think we need to be getting this done and wrapped up," said Council Member Moore.
Council Member Chris Coleman ended up voting for the additional time and money for city hall improvements, but not before raising concerns about the project and saying he feels considerably uneasy with the plan going forward. "What started as a $2 million boiler project looks to me to be a $10 million renovation here and a $26 million building across the street and a $2 million hole in the front yard," said Coleman.
City Manager Scott Sanders pushed back on that assessment by replying, "this was never a $2 million dollar project." Sanders said renovating an old building is expensive. "We have a lot of our private businesses in Des Moines under current renovations that are not adding square footage, but spending tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars on renovating, bringing them up to speed with what`s necessary in a 21st century office."
That's a point Council Member Christine Hensley backs the city manager up on, saying as expensive as renovating city hall is, it would be more expensive to construct a new building. "We can criticize that we didn`t have all the information at the beginning. However nobody knows what`s behind the walls and that`s where you really run into problems when you have construction and projects like this."