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After pipe breaks, scrambling over the weekend to move things around allowed City Hall to open for business Monday morning

Gladstone leaders got more than they expected during their annual Leadership Retreat on Jan. 6.

During the lunchtime break from discussing the annual strategic plan, someone flushed a toilet in the second floor of City Hall, and it caused a sewer blockage in one of the pipes on Dartmouth Street.

PHOTO COURTESY: JACQUE BETZ - Gladstone's Police Department building was closed last week as asbestos testing determined how much of the wall structure, flooring and concrete will need to be removed.The backup broke a pipe in the police department police department next door, flooding the squad room, records room, and IT server room.

Gladstone Public Works Director Jim Whynot, not afraid to get his hands dirty, literally, was celebrated at the day's hero. He ran downstairs and found a way to shut off the water main.

The damage was already done, however, to areas critical to daily City Hall operations. IT consultant Robert Hales was called in, and City Manager Jacque Betz worked with public-works employees to temporarily relocate the IT server room on Sunday.

Scrambling over the weekend to move things around allowed City Hall to open for business Monday morning. But patrol officers had to start writing reports in the field and share space in the fire department.

"Police reports or inquiries are being taken at City Hall as we have moved our records clerk there temporarily," Betz said. "It was smelly and gross and embarrassing that our employees are subjected to this type of working environment."

Betz pointed out that it's no secret that Gladstone's Police Department and City Hall facilities have been deplorable for a time now. In 2015, voters approved a ballot measure to authorize a new Gladstone City Hall estimated at $4 million and police station estimated at $7.2 million. Betz said city officials are doing everything possible to submit an official request for qualifications in the next few weeks secure a contractor-design team for the new facilities.

"However, we still need to use these facilities for two more years, if that is possible," Betz said.

After visiting the first floor to survey the damage, City Council was able to spend the rest of the afternoon discussing the annual strategic plan. During this meeting, the only usable restroom — for anyone needing to use one — was in the fire department two doors down Portland Avenue.

Asbestos testing is determining how much of the wall structure, flooring and concrete will need to be removed. Thankfully, no one was hurt and no public records were destroyed, Betz said. A claim has been filed with the city's insurer to cover the damage.

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