Kemah Assistant Police Chief James Heard remembers the days of working from a cramped portable metal building across the parking lot from city hall.
But those days are over, with the city’s police department joining a host of other staff in moving into a renovated city hall at 1401 state Highway 146 in recent weeks, Mayor Carl Joiner said.
And the old police department building, which city staff plans to have moved in coming weeks, might not survive the transportation, with leaks in the roof and old flooring, Heard joked.
Construction crews recently finished work on a $1.7 million city hall addition project that included renovations to the older parts of the building, including a new, bigger council and municipal court chambers, additional staff offices and other improvements, Joiner said.
“City hall probably hasn’t been renovated since back in 1996 when it was first built,” Joiner said.
Joiner in February signed a building contract for the renovation and expansion project that added 3,834 feet to the current, 6,541-square-foot city hall, and Houston-based Durotech Inc. broke ground in March.
Seabrook-based Tim Broadhead Architects, along with some unpaid input from Joiner, who is an architect by trade, designed the renovations and additions, Joiner said.
The renovation gave many of the city’s staff additional office and conference room space and allowed the police department to finally move into city hall after being based in the temporary building since the early 2000s, officials said.
Kemah financed the project via its cash reserves, which typically hovers around $4 million, Joiner said. Kemah pays cash for all capital improvements and has no debt, Joiner said.
The original city hall building opened 22 years ago. Two years later, in 1998, Landry’s, the food and entertainment chain, opened the first phase of what is now its 60-acre Kemah Boardwalk development, straining the city’s ability to accommodate the resulting growth.
The new expansion will house enlarged municipal and police staffing, Joiner said.
Kemah employs about 19 people in the police department and another eight employees in city administration and municipal court, Joiner said.