While most people will be gearing up to pop firecrackers and fire up the grill next week for Independence Day, the city of Chico will be celebrating it’s new home.
On Monday morning Chico City Hall opens for business in what used to be Chico Elementary School on 400 S. Hovey St.
Not too many years ago, Mayor J.D. Clark was a student there.
More than a decade later, he’s helped transform the old school building into new offices and council chambers for city hall featuring a community center where the old cafeteria and auditorium were.
“I sang an Elvis song up on that stage in the first grade,” Clark recalled.
Thursday morning, Clark was helping move some of the final parts into place at the new city hall. It’s a project he’s been envisioning since 2009.
“We’ve been working hard on this,” he said. “Everybody is going to be real surprised when they see it.”
“I think it’s great,” said Anita Long, Chico administrative assistant. “I’ve been crowded ever since I can remember.
“We’re hoping this new space will get more of the community to attend council meetings and get involved and see how the city operates,” Long added.
Chico school district donated the building to the city.
“The school had outgrown it,” Clark said. “It no longer met their educational needs. A lot of times these old school buildings end up abandoned and a blight on the neighborhood. But we saw a way we could utilize it.”
The new facility also comes equipped with a new playground for children to use. Clark also wants to start opening the old school gym across the parking to the public a couple times per week.
“One of the number one issues you hear from parents is that they need more things for kids,” Clark said. “While we can’t keep the kids out of trouble, we can give them something to do.”
The new city hall will still operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The project was done almost entirely in-house. The only work contracted out was the renovation of the auditorium, which cost approximately $80,000 and was done by Steele and Freeman, Inc., of Fort Worth, which is also the general contractor at the new Weatherford College Wise County Campus.
The city will hold an open house and grand opening ceremony Aug. 4.