Home Local News Work on new Jal City Hall underway

Work on new Jal City Hall underway

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JAL — After years of planning, construction of a new Jal City Hall inside the former Burke Junior High School building is under way.

The first first-phase cost of the project is about $2.3 million and much-needed. The current municipal building at 309 Main St., is considered outgrown and aged. The building dates back to 1950 when it was first built and endured renovations in 1966 and 1981.

In July 2019, the Jal City Council unanimously approved architects to continue with phase one plans for a 14,300-square-foot city hall at the east end of the 37,900-square-foot building.

In late April, the council awarded Hobbs-based Lasco Construction Inc. a contract to rebuild the interior of the eastern third of the Burke Building, located in the 700 block of West Wyoming Avenue, to house municipal offices and council chambers.

“Previous administrations found funding to repair the roof and HVAC system,” said Mayor Stephen Aldridge. “And the building has good bones,” meaning the structure remains sound even after years of sitting idle.

The space set aside for the city hall, Aldridge estimated, is several times larger than the current facility.

The school was closed when the community’s population dropped significantly upon departure of a major employer. Eventually, the school district ceded ownership of the building to the city.

Phase one renovation will include new chambers for the council, the motor vehicle department, the water department and offices for the mayor, city manager, city clerk and other personnel.

“What we’re going to run into,” Aldridge said, “is delays in material, … shortages of steel and PVC. I would not be at all surprised if there are some delays because of no fault of the contractor but the availability of the material. We’ll face things like that as we get to them.”

The mayor told the New-Sun last week he has encouraged the contractor to acquire whatever materials are needed whenever possible in hopes of completing the project by sometime next year.

Eventually, possibly at an estimated $2 million or more, city officials hope to remodel the remainder of the building for a conference area, a public meeting area and a wellness facility.

A new city hall has been listed on the city’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) for several years, with the New Mexico Legislature awarding $600,000 in capital outlay this year.

A local governmental entity’s ICIP is a living document, often called a wish list, necessary to convince the state Legislature and other grant-providing agencies of the sincerity of the entity regarding capital improvement projects.

Aldridge told the News-Sun in a previous interview he believed it’s just good business to proceed with the project.

“Having worked in the current building, more space is sorely needed,” Aldridge said. “For the amount of business that takes place in there and the number of people that work in there, I think it just makes for a more efficient business setting (to develop a new city hall). I think it’s needed.”

Apparently, the majority of Jal citizens agreed with him as the attendees of a 2019 public meeting encouraged their elected officials to proceed with the city hall first, rather than the other uses proposed for the Burke Building.

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