Brownstown’s town hall employees and police officers are settling into their new workspaces.
They moved from the former location at 200 W. Walnut St. to a renovated building at 116 E. Cross St., which previously housed The Jackson County Banner office.
The town hall reopened Monday for residents to make sewer bill payments and conduct other town business. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are asked to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet apart, and there should only be one person at a time in the lobby.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
A night drop in between the doors on the right of the lobby entrance is available 24/7 or people can pay a sewage bill or make a general payment with a credit or debit card online at explorebrownstown.com.
Since April, Brownstown Town Council meetings have been conducted via Zoom, but the next one at 6 p.m. June 1 will be in the meeting room at the Cross Street building.
The council made that decision during Monday night’s virtual meeting, and it also agreed to have an open house at 5:30 p.m. July 6 before a council meeting. That will give people a chance to take a tour of the town hall and police department. Following the meeting, refreshments will be served.
The council decided to delay the open house until July because it’s expected that the virus restrictions will be lifted by then. As of now, that’s set to occur July 4.
"It’s going to give them more time to get settled in and familiar with their surroundings," Councilman Gary Drake said of the town hall and police department employees. "I personally feel like we need to err on the side of caution. If we have a large number of people, it might be a good idea to push it out to July as far as the open house."
Council President Gregg Goshorn said during the open house, people should still practice social distancing, and they will go through the building one way for a tour and go out another way to keep it flowing.
"We can try to do that and have sanitizer and other things to make sure people feel safe coming through the town hall," he said.
So far, Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said the only issue with the transition is internet connectivity, but that’s expected to be resolved soon.
He also expressed a potential future issue with storage of records, but Councilwoman Sharon Koch said shelving could be added on a wall in the back part of the building for the town hall and police department to use.
Police Chief Tom Hanner said he and his officers like their new space. It is much larger than their previous location with cubicles for officers and separate offices for the chief, assistant chief, school resource officer and detective. Plus, there is an interview room, men’s and women’s locker rooms with restrooms, two garage bays and an evidence room.
"It’s awesome," Hanner said. "It’s beyond anything we could imagine ever having, but it’s going to take us some time to work through the bugs and get used to it."
Renovation of the building started in December 2019. Goecker Construction Inc. of Seymour was awarded the project in May 2019 after being the lowest of three bidders at $381,256, and work began in December of that year because of a commitment conflict with a subcontractor.
One of the main reasons for the town purchasing the building is the former town hall facility, built in 1945, is not compliant with the Americans with Disability Act.
The new location has handicap parking spots, a ramp and a crosswalk in front of the building and is ADA compliant from the entryway all the way through the building.
The new location also has a new roof, new concrete and sidewalks and a new perimeter drain.
The old town building at the corner of Walnut and Poplar streets is for sale. A little more than a year ago, it was appraised at $270,000.
"We are entertaining any offer at this point," Goshorn said.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
The new location for Brownstown Town Hall and the Brownstown Police Department is at 116 E. Cross St.
The first Brownstown Town Council meeting there will be at 6 p.m. June 1.
An open house to allow the public to tour the building will be at 5:30 p.m. July 6. Following the council meeting that starts at 6 p.m., refreshments will be served.