Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
The seats of power have gotten much more comfortable for city commissioners, charter officers and the public who attend meetings at City Hall. For the first time since the mid-1990’s, Fernandina Beach City Commission Chambers have been refurbished with new carpeting and new chairs for commissioners and the public. The total cost for these improvements: $8,283,26.
After securing 4 bids, City Manager Joe Gerrity on June 27, 2013 authorized the purchase and installation of new carpeting from the Nassau Design Center, Inc. of Yulee at a cost of $2,940.19. On September 9, 2013 Gerrity authorized an additional $747.96 to install matching carpeting on the stairs.
The 80 new audience chairs, purchased from Sam’s Club, are described as Hercules extra wide stacking church chairs and were approved for purchase in the amount of $3,268.00 by City Manager Gerrity on September 12, 2013.
In response to at least two commissioner complaints, the city also upgraded commission chairs in the chamber. Ten “leather mid-back conference table or office desk chairs” were purchased on e-Bay in June at a cost of $1,095.00. Two additional chairs were purchased in June around the same time for $232.11 from Capital Office Products in Daytona Beach.
The last time major upgrades were done to City Hall dates back to the mid-1990’s when the fire station was moved to 14th Street and the former fire truck bays were converted to city commission chambers. City Manager Zachary Zoul directed this project, which resulted in considerable controversy over cost of the conversion which was done in-house. The carpeting and furniture installed and placed as part of that renovation have been in place until this recent upgrade effort.
According to city officials, the commissioner chairs have been recycled in City Hall to other conference and planning areas, replacing chairs that were in worse condition. Many audience chairs have failed over the years. Those remaining have been offered to city departments.
Some in the community have questioned the timing of these upgrades, coming as they have following city funding cuts for local non-profit social service agencies, personnel cuts and collective bargaining talks with the city’s two unions.
September 27, 2013 12:26 p.m.