Christine Lee, Grand Prairie Reporter
Grand Prairie invests $2 million to gut out its outdated city council chambers. The new state of the art room will open this July.
Outdated technology has been dragging down Grand Prairie's image for years.
Grand Prairie City Hall has been standing tall at 317 College Street since 1974. Over the decades, the city council chambers have slowly been falling apart.
Now the city has invested $2 million to give it a major upgrade.
"Council chambers is often the first impression someone has of the city of Grand Prairie, whether they're here in person for a case or they're watching it on our government access channel or on our website. It's often the only time they'll see Grand Prairie, and our old chambers, while it was cutting edge in the 1970s, was no longer cutting edge in the 2010s," said Amy Sprinkles, marketing director for the city.
City Secretary Cathy DiMaggio said many of the technical components inside the chambers had to be fixed constantly, making it stressful during meetings.
"Our poor mayor, with our old equipment he'd look at me and say, 'Cathy is this working?' and I would say, 'I don't know!' Because we would never know from moment to moment," said DiMaggio.
Council members strained their necks to watch presentations on a screen, which was essentially a piece of painted concrete. And many of the mics stopped working.
"You can't repair a 1974 speaker when the parts don't exist anymore. We were holding it together with chewing gum and barbed wire in some cases," said Sprinkles.
Even a simple task of playing a DVD was difficult inside the old council chambers. But after this multi-million-dollar renovation, Grand Prairie will have a state of the art facility with better lighting, better video, and better overall presentation abilities.
Sprinkles said the project was budgeted with one-time money in the city's capital improvement projects.
The room is currently gutted. The old is gone and they're making room for the new.
"Definitely catching up with the times," said DiMaggio, "We will have everything digital, it will be laptop, touchscreen."
Until construction is complete, the council meets at a temporary location a few miles away.
"Right now we're taking all of our equipment over to the Grand Prairie ISD chambers for meetings so we're rolling our little cases and our laptops over there right now," saod DiMaggio. Still, city workers said it's a small cost to fix what was an undeniable eyesore.
Construction started last November and has been on schedule. It's expected to open this July.