Friends of Atascadero: Smile for the camera

Everyone is invited to take part in a large group photo Friday to mark the start of a repair project on Atascadero’s historic City Administration Building.

Those who attend the public event will be included in a large group photo to be hung in the Colony Museum, along with nearly 100-year-old photos of the 1918 building’s original construction.

“This is a historic occasion,” Atascadero Mayor Roberta Fonzi said. “We want to make sure it’s recorded for posterity.”

The long-awaited, three-phase construction project to fix the landmark damaged in the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake is scheduled to end by the community’s centennial in 2013.

The event — to begin at noon — will also include music, food, a ceremonial cake and several representatives from the community and local government, including U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and representatives from the office of state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo.

There will also be presentations by Jim Wilkins of the Atascadero Historical Society and several other groups.

Members of the Atascadero High School Show Choir, Atascadero High School Marching Band and the Atascadero Junior High School Marching Band will provide ceremony music. Atascadero Boy Scout Troop 101 will provide the color guard show.

For information, contact Joanne Main at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce at 466-2044.

Work to restore the building is estimated to cost $43 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay $16 million, but the city is still lobbying to bring it up to $28 million. The city will front the remaining money with a bond for up to $18 million.

Of the three complex work phases, the first will be most noticeable to the community, planners said.

“Everything above the mezzanine in the top rotunda is coming off,” Architect Stephanie Kingsnorth said.

Scaffolding will surround its exterior as workers carefully remove the dome and the surrounding rooms on the fourth floor.