Municipal Building and Civic Center Upgrades

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For decades, Dothan's municipal building and civic center have been nearly neglected of maintenance.

The needed repairs and updates are adding up, making it tough for city officials to decide what to do next.

Considering what is immediately needed and then long-term plans for the facility, commissioners are having a tough time making a decision.

It's a matter of investing money now, or waiting until future plans are made for the building.

What to do with Dothan's Municipal Building and Civic Center?

The question was raised about a year and a half ago when commissioners were made aware of a problem with the air conditioning unit.

Now, with a final evaluation completed, commissioners have been told it will take more than a million dollars to fix the system.

Dothan City Manager Mike West said, "If we're going to spend this kind of money, we need to know we've made an investment, not for the short term, but for the long term to maintain the Civic Center."

However, the big question is, what are the long-term plans for the Civic Center?

Months ago, in Mayor Pat Thomas' tax revenue presentation, he discussed a three-year plan and even the idea of building a performing arts center.

So, if that idea becomes reality, spending so much money on the current building could be a loss.

This leaves city officials facing a few major issues.

They may have to speed up the three-year long-term planning process for the Civic Center in order to decide how to address the current problems.

They also need to decide whether or not to address smaller, more serious maintenance matters for the short-term.

There are three main maintenance items the commissioners will vote on addressing in their next meeting.

They will consider painting the outside of the building, replacing exterior doors and fixing stage rigging in the theatre.

Also, the money for all these projects will be coming from the general fund, with help from the increased sales tax revenue.

As far as long-term planning, commissioners will hear a renovation report after consulting with an architect over the next several weeks.

They are expecting the figures and ideas from the report will help them in their decision-making process.