New Wilmore City Hall may open next week
Published 10:50 am Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Wilmore’s city government has long been crowded into a small two-story building on Main Street near the railroad tracks. But soon, city workers will have more elbow room.
City Hall is moving to what has been a school building on Lexington Avenue for nearly a century.
“It’s almost ten times the size,” Mayor Harold Rainwater said, comparing the new 56,000-square-foot municipal building to the old one.
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Besides the city offices and a council chambers, the building has a gymnasium that has been booked almost every night this summer, a stage for dramatic and musical performances, an assembly room, a kitchen and cafeteria an outdoor pavilion and outdoor recreational facilities and plenty of green space.
And the city got it for a song.
Rainwater said the city government paid $250,000 for the property and will probably put another $50,000 into it.
“It’s going to to provide a lot for the community,” Vince Lewellen, the city’s public works supervisor and cemetery sexton, said.
Amy Fitch, the parks and recreation director, who had already moved in last week, was thrilled about the possibilities. She said it will be used for city and church volleyball and basketball leagues this winter.
The mayor said the gym alone is worth the purchase price.
The oldest part of the building, constructed in 1930, will become the new home of the Wilmore Police Department in about a month, and the newer brick section, constructed in 1962, will be used by the offices now in the old City Hall and the Fire Department.
The mayor said the move should happen by next week.
The Jessamine County Clerk’s Office will also have an office in the building, and there are negotiations between the city government and the Jessamine County Public Library to eventually open a Wilmore branch of the library in the 3,600-square-foot basement of the building, which is handicapped accessible from the back.
There will be more than 150 parking spaces in front and back together.
If the old part of the new City Hall resembles the old City Hall, it’s no coincidence. Both are built with the same cut stone, and Rainwater said it’s his understanding that the same firm built both.
That part of the building was the old Wilmore High School. The campus was later home to Wilmore Elementary School, then the Jessamine Early Learning Village and most recently, The Providence School, an alternative high school.
The building is in good shape because it has been continuously in use, the mayor said. It has a 10-year-old roof, and parts of the HVAC system are fairly new. It mostly just needed some paint.
“I think people are excited about it,” Rainwater said. “A lot of us went to school there,” and so did their children and grandchildren, so “it’s pretty meaningful for us.”
The new building should be open to the public next week, and there may be a “soft opening,” such as a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, but there probably won’t be a large-scale event in the near future because of the coronavirus.
The mayor said the city wants to sell its old building to a business and put it back on the tax rolls.
The Wilmore Fire Department will keep its building on Linden Street for its trucks, but will have a training room and offices in the new City Hall.
“It’s a good deal for our little town,” the mayor said.