Two weeks ago, the Atascadero City Council voted unanimously to move its chambers to the fourth floor rotunda of the City Administration Building. That’s good news because it makes the lower rotunda and nearby rooms available to the public for other functions, such as a museum.
Going back to the fourth floor will provide a council chamber that can seat 200 people for any given meeting or a number of other public functions, such as a dance, a wedding reception or a public lecture.
The City Hall’s top floor will look a little different from what it does now. The restrooms will be expanded to comply with disabled-access codes, and we’ll probably see a new elevator that is also approved for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The renovation plan calls for the dome to be removed from the roof of the building along with the four add-on buildings, including the penthouse built for the owner of the Moran Junior College, a kitchen (for the college dining room, which is also the upper rotunda), an auxiliary storage room and the Club Room, which had a fireplace and wood-paneled walls. All those rooms were added to the building a few years after it was completed in 1918. After the building was sold in 1928, it served as three different junior college campuses up until 1952. The county supervisors bought the building in 1954 from Dorothy Aldrich and soon named it the Veterans Memorial Building.
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A new Club Room will be built on the area looking out on the Sunken Gardens, and a small kitchen will be constructed on the side that faces the junior high school. The city will save about $1 million by not rebuilding the penthouse and storage facility.
The original dais built by a city employee shortly after voters approved incorporation in 1979 will be reused in the renovated council chambers. The one being used in the remodeled bowling alley that now serves as council chambers is too big for the new upper floor meeting facility.
Making the decision to return the council chambers to the upper rotunda is good news for citizens who love that old building. It means that the lower rotunda, which is much more ornate, may have a good chance of being used in part for a museum, along with some other nearby rooms.
By a 5-0 vote, the council is making the best use of the City Administration Building while protecting its historic function.
City Manager Wade McKinney said it best in pointing out that except for Hearst Castle, the City Administration Building is one of the most unique structures between Los Angeles and San Francisco.