Timing questioned on $275,000 upgrade of Jupiter council chambers


New audio/visual improvements planned in Jupiter town hall

Work is scheduled to be finished in September

“We’re stuck in the 80s. During video presentations, we have to balance projectors on books,” says Mayor Todd Wodraska, who supports about $275,000 for digital and cosmetic upgrades to the Jupiter town council chambers.

But opponents ask why upgrade now when the town may spend up to $36 million to demolish the town hall and police station, and build new structures?

“(Spending the $275,000) is a total waste of money until a final decision is made on what to do with town hall and the police department,” said Teri Grooms, a Jupiter resident who ran and lost for the town council in March.

A public meeting is planned Wednesday night to discuss new town hall/police department options.

The $275,000 in chamber upgrades include new projection screens, internet access for council members, upgrades to the sound system, a new surface for the dais and other improvements. Work is expected to be finished by Delray Beach-based Republic Construction Corp in early September, according to according to Thomas Driscoll, the town’s director of engineering, parks and public works.

Town council and other municipal meetings will be held in nearby Community Center at 200 Military Trail until the work is complete, according to the town’s website.

Wodraska defended the chamber improvements, saying the new $275,000 in equipment would be reused when the town hall/police station is either renovated or demolished. The improvements have been planned for several years, he said.

That new town hall/police department project is several years away. In the meantime, the new equipment is needed in the council chambers, said Wodraska.

“It’s not like we are paving a road and then digging it up to put in underground utilities. The new equipment in the council chambers will be reused,” said Wodraska.

The four proposals for the town hall/police station are:

  • About $10 million to expand the lobby and improve the roof, walls, windows and doors — known as hardening — of the town hall data center. The police department would get an expanded sally port, where prisoners arrive and police officers bring vehicles.
  • About $14 million for a new lobby, new council chamber and renovations in town hall. The police department would be remodeled.
  • About $25 million would build a new police department with a larger lobby and improved security. The police department would go from the current 26,800 square feet to 35,000 square feet. The town hall lobby would be expanded and security improved.
  • About $36 million would demolish the old building and build a new town hall and police department in separate buildings.

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