Joliet council’s $878k overhauled chambers open for business
By Bob Okon email@example.com December 4, 2012 9:38PM
Ben Komar, from Home Control Works, checks on microphone wires in the newly remodeled Joliet City Council chambers at Joliet City Hall in Joliet, Illinois, Tuesday, December 4, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 6, 2013 9:54AM
JOLIET — The Joliet City Council returned to a new and improved council chambers Tuesday.
The council room in the last three months went through its first makeover since City Hall was built in 1967.
It now contains wide-screen TVs and other technological improvements, and it has been remade as a multi-purpose room that also serves as a federal bankruptcy court. It can be used for community meeting space.
New portable chairs have replaced the orange bench seats that may have been the most notable feature of the old chambers, having given the room a retro look that hailed back to its 1960s origin.
“We’re finally in the 21st Century,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman declared at a brief ceremony marking the first council meeting in the new chambers.
The remodeled chambers came at a price tag of $878,000.
The job was not funded with general tax revenues. But Comcast and AT&T television customers pay a fee that is funding the project. The fees amount to 35 cents a month on the Comcast bill and 1 percent of the AT&T bill.
The fees can only be used for projects designed to make government more accessible to the public. City officials have said the improvements will make it possible to post more graphic information on the television screen for viewers watching council meetings back home. The wide screen TVs will be used to give the audience a better view of the same graphics that council members see during meetings.
The federal government also funded the project with a $114,000 capital contribution and annual rent of $180,000. In addition to getting a courtroom for bankruptcy buildings, the renovations included office space for judges and lawyers outside the chambers.
City Manager Thomas Thanas noted that the chambers will be more available to the public. He said meetings already are being scheduled for the room, which features a dividing wall that can be used to have two gatherings at a time in the chambers.
“If we have two meetings going on at the same time, we can do so without having them interrupt each other,” Thanas said.