Dispatch room cuts space for other agencies County office renovations displace meeting areas

March 13, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A stuffy basement room in the County Office Building in Westminster did not provide ideal meeting space, but it was adequate for government agencies and community groups.

Now, as Emergency Services Operations converts Room 07 in the Center Street building to a dispatch center, those organizations are pressed for space.

The room will become a 24-hour dispatch center when the new emergency response system comes on line, probably in October. Jay Nave, administrative assistant to the county Bureau of Road Operations, said he hopes to award a bid for the renovations by April 1. Construction is to begin in May.

"To get the space ready, I have to displace several groups now," Mr. Nave said.

Room 07 will get its own heating and cooling systems, new flooring, wiring and cables.

The Board of Zoning Appeals and the Liquor Board have scheduled hearings at the Agriculture Center this month. James Norvel, administrator for those boards, said he is encountering logistical problems in finding space to accommodate 100 people, which hearings often draw.

"Many rooms are not designed for a lot of people over a long period of time," he said. "When there is a great demand, we could tie up a room all day."

The Planning Commission also is finding itself in search of a meeting room. The panel is standing in line for time in Room 300A, where the County Commissioners have priority. That room on the top floor of the building on Center Street holds about 50 people.

Depending on the agenda, planning meetings and public hearings can draw much larger crowds. ... "Any time you make changes, there are problems," said J. Michael Evans, county director of public works. "It will be inconvenient for about two years, but not impossible."

The county staff will bear the brunt of the inconvenience, he said. Members will have to set up and take down meeting areas in outlying locations.

A $4.5 million expansion plan for county offices includes a larger meeting room with improved ventilation and sound system, Mr. Evans said. The completion date for the project is about two years away.

The proposed design features a press area and fixed seating, so chairs won't have to be rearranged anymore.

Other groups hope libraries or schools can meet their needs. Schools require users to pay for custodial crews.

At the five library branches, meeting space is free but in great demand, and library programs take precedence. Organizations must meet during library hours, which might be shortened because of county budget problems.

The Westminster branch is probably the busiest because of its central location. It has a large room that can hold 50 and two smaller ones, each of which can seat about a dozen people.

"The rooms are constantly booked," said Lois Leasure, adult services supervisor.

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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