CROWN POINT — After months of work, the Crown Point Clerk-Treasurer's Office reopened its doors earlier this summer with a fresh coat of sunny yellow paint and an expanded footprint.
But work at Crown Point City Hall isn't yet complete, as officials have plans to replace the building's chair lift with an elevator. Crown Point Chief of Staff Greg Falkowski said that project is in the works.
As residents walk into the new Clerk-Treasurer's office, they are greeted with an entirely new view, Clerk-Treasurer Dave Benson told The Times in late May.
"The whole idea came from the mayor, and his idea was with the pandemic, we were just crammed in here like sardines," Benson said.
"The mayor's idea was to open up a foyer area, not just for the clerk's office, but for City Hall. And that way we have people when they come in, either to see the mayor's office or the clerk treasurer's office, they can physically distance and have plenty of room to spread out."
Before, Benson's office was located where the expanded lobby is now, leaving little room for residents to be helped or wait.
Now, three residents can be helped at once, with plenty of waiting room left.
Benson and Chief Deputy Clerk Bette Babjak's offices are located toward the center of the building, behind the city's four, sometimes five, customer service clerks.
The new placement allows both Benson and Babjak to see the front counter and lend a hand as needed, Benson said.
Also new to the office is a small conference table in Benson's office.
"The clerk's office never had a meeting room or a meeting area, we always just had to stand around the front to have a meeting," he said. "So now we're going to have a small table."
Furniture, doors and cabinetry were repurposed "as much as we could," during the remodel, Benson pointed out.
Three buildings see upgrades
Benson said the remodel created new space for the city's billing clerks and bookkeepers, as well as the city's payroll clerk, and allowed for an expanded kitchen and additional space for records.
"This was a combination of not only the clerk's office, but the building department, too," Benson said.
While the clerk-treasurer's office had a walk-up window before the renovations, which Benson heralded a "God-send" during the pandemic, it, too, received a face-lift.
"It was very old. It was aged, and the problem with the one before was it was higher, and on the outside, people had to climb two steps to get up," Benson said of the walk-up window.
When Benson began working with the city in 1988, the Crown Point Police Department was located on one side of City Hall, with the clerk-treasurer's office on the other. The former steps used to be the old entrance to City Hall, Benson recalled.
The steps are no longer, as they were removed during the remodel to make the walk-up window compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Benson said.
A new window and audio system also were installed, Benson said, noting the old audio system was "pretty dated."
An awning and windbreaks offer residents protection from the weather, so the walk-up window can be used if "it's a little cool out," Benson said.
City Hall, specifically the clerk-treasurer's office, was one of three city-owned buildings to be renovated this year.
In late 2020, the Crown Point Board of Works approved more than $630,000 in renovations to downtown municipal buildings, which board members felt were long overdue.
Crown Point Fire & Rescue saw a new kitchen installed, as well as a new acoustical ceiling, lighting and epoxy flooring, while the city's building department found a new home in the old Civic Center.
The building department now has an open lobby; a conference room; a plan review station to go over blueprints; offices for the building commissioner and head building inspector; and cubicles for additional inspectors, Falkowski said previously.
Falkowski said recently all of the projects have been complete, save for punch-list items.
Gallery: Newly renovated clerk's office at Crown Point City Hall
The Crown Point Clerk-Treasuer's office recently saw various upgrades, including fresh paint, an upgraded, ADA-accessible walk-up window and an expanded lobby. More work is in store for Crown Point City Hall, with plans to remove a chair lift in the building and install an elevator.