Quincy old city hall in dire need
Quincy’s Old City Hall needs $6 million to $8 million in repairs, according to a report that described a litany of structural and safety concerns at the 167-year-old building.
The problems include inadequate fire protection, termite- and beetle-infested support beams, poor heating and cooling systems, a water-damaged ceiling, electrical and wiring systems that are not compliant with codes, nonexistent handicapped access, asbestos, mold, and “emergency egress from all levels of the building [that] is inadequate and illegal by current building code standards,’’ said the report by the architectural firm Holmes & Edwards Inc.
Although the building is one of the oldest City Halls in America, it will not be used until it can be repaired.
Already Quincy city councilors have approved a $190,000 lease from the Grossman Monroe Trust for use of the Monroe Building at 1245 Hancock St., which will house city operations for the time being.
City officials have been using the building for space to store files that were previously in the flood-prone area of Old City Hall’s basement.
Money for repairs will come from a $3 million capital improvement bond the city first used in 2007, though councilors balked at using those funds when they began discussing the issue in June.
The report makes clear that the city government cannot function in its current space.
“This report confirms what we’ve suspected since we began reviewing the conditions of the building: Something has to be done, and it has to be done soon for the building, our employees, and our residents,’’ said Mayor Thomas Koch in a press release. “If we wait much longer, it is only going to cost more; or worse, we will lose this treasure entirely.’’
According to City Clerk Joseph Shea, who is heading up the renovation project, the need to improve the building is dire.
“This is a tremendously important historic landmark and it is tremendously important to the people of this city. We have a responsibility to care for our records, our workers, and the public who use this building on a daily basis,’’ Shea said.
A renovation committee, appointed by the mayor, will review a draft of potential repairs provided in the report. The group is charged with compiling a more detailed study of potential fixes that would include a complete structural renovation of the building both inside and out.
According to city officials, the $200,000 study will be paid for with Community Preservation Act funds. The $45,000 study by Holmes & Edwards also was funded with CPA money.
Koch said that no money from the city’s general fund would be used to pay for the project. City officials hope Community Preservation Act funding and historic grants will cover the work.
The project eventually will require collaboration with the Massachusetts Historical Society because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Koch’s press release, the offices that still remain in Old City Hall will be moved out of the building this month.
As for the old building, no decisions on design elements will be made until the formal architectural process begins, but the report suggested that city officials create exhibit space in the basement of City Hall and transform some offices into meeting space.
The report also suggests that the city clerk’s office be moved entirely and permanently out of the building.
“This is an important first step, and we will be working with the committee going forward on the specific details and plans for the renovated building,’’ Koch said.
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at email@example.com.