By RALPH BARTHOLDT
COEUR d’ALENE — Jayne Morse’s view has been a wall.
For her entire tenure as the receptionist at Coeur d’Alene City Hall, Morse has occupied a desk inside two doors leading to the offices of the city’s administrators.
For 15 years, the comfort zone for her eyes, the place she would gaze in a few moments of down time, was a north wall devoid of windows or decor.
“My desk has never moved,” Morse said.
That will change when the remodel at the city’s main municipal building is completed later this year. Her new downstairs digs will have windows and her desk will face the circling sun.
“I think it will face outside,” Morse said.
Until then, Morse will be among dozens of staffers whose daily routine will be affected by the $1.9 million remodel at City Hall, which is in its first phase with a scheduled completion
this fall. The downstairs offices that housed the Parks and Recreation Department and the billing department have moved upstairs into temporary quarters, partly in the former City Council chambers, as Ginno Construction, the project manager and contractor, remodels the basement.
Supervisor Darrell Turner said he expects the first phase — which includes heating and air conditioning, as well as electrical upgrades downstairs — to be completed this summer. That phase includes a protruding elevator shaft, atrium and portico lending a new look to the east side of City Hall, which will become the main entrance. The current upstairs entrance will be converted to an exit.
The musical chairs at City Hall, with departments shuffling and squeezing into existing space until different phases of the three-part project are completed, is a short-term inconvenience for an overdue fix, said City Clerk Renata McLeod.
“I’ve been here for 28 years and we’ve been talking about remodeling the entire time I’ve been here,” McLeod said.
The remodel will bring the building in line with federal Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines that call for wheelchair accessibility. Bathrooms, entrances and the elevator will accommodate wheelchairs. When construction is completed, the banquet hall-sized former council chambers will be converted to house the city’s criminal legal department that is now located in leased space at 816 Sherman Ave. But for now, McLeod calls the old council chambers the “holding corral,” as the space is serving as temporary quarters for various city departments — customer service, planning, engineering and human resources — while other areas of the building are under construction.
Moving criminal legal to City Hall will save the city $30,000 annually, said Assistant City Administrator Sam Taylor. The project will be paid from the city’s rainy day fund, said Taylor, who viewed the upgrade at City Hall — built in 1978 — as a necessity.
“There is water infiltration through the walls (downstairs) and you can smell the mold,” Taylor said.
The floating date to complete the three phases of work — which will include revamping the electrical and HVAC system upstairs, adding more efficient windows and siding to replace the current brown and green sleeve — is somewhere between October and November. Until then, customers must use the upstairs entrance by the city library. Downstairs parking next to McEuen Park is limited.
Regardless of the completion date, Morse is looking forward to her new desk space.
“I’m going to love it,” she said.