New Murray City Hall dedicatedJul 03, 2023 12:50PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
In one of the first public meetings in City Hall, the Planning Commission meets in the city council chambers on June 15. (Photo courtesy of James Delliskave)
Seven years after its announcement, the long-awaited culmination of years of planning and construction, the grand opening of the new City Hall (10 E. 4800 South) marked a significant milestone in Murray City’s history. Murray City dedicated its City Hall on June 29 with speeches, live entertainment, food trucks and prize giveaways.
Councilmembers and city officials expressed their thoughts and feelings as they bid farewell to the old building and embraced the new facility’s opportunities.
“It seemed like we were never going to get into the new building,” Mayor Brett Hales said. “But here we are. It’s beautiful. We are very proud of the building.”
Mayor Hales expressed his satisfaction with the project, stating the completion of the new City Hall represents a long-awaited achievement for the city, reflecting its dedication to modernizing and improving its facilities for its residents’ benefit.
It has taken four mayors to get the job done. In October 2016, Mayor Ted Eyre expressed in the “Mayor’s Message” of the Murray Journal, “Now, well over 85 years old, we have the opportunity to build a new City Hall that will act as a catalyst to reinvigorate our entire downtown area and serve our city for decades to come.”
Eyre would die in office the following year, with interim Mayor Diane Turner and Mayor Blair Camp moving the project forward during a pandemic and through corporate red tape regarding a cell tower holding up the project.
Councilmember Diane Turner, who played a vital role in the design and location selection process, reflected on the fulfillment of her campaign promise to develop a new City Hall.
“One of my campaign promises was to develop a new City Hall, and it’s finally fulfilled. I am elated,” Turner said.
Additionally, Turner expressed her gratitude for the old building, which held sentimental value for her political career.
“I will always remember it as where I was first sworn in as a Murray City councilmember and the pride I felt standing by the lectern,” she said.
The old City Hall had witnessed the beginning of Turner’s journey as a councilmember and a stint as interim mayor when Eyre died. Additionally, she recalled the cherished moments spent in her council chair, which offered comfort and a sense of purpose.
“I could have sat in it for hours,” Turner said.
The memories created within the old building were not limited to the professional achievements for Turner. She also shared memories involving her grandchildren, who had the opportunity to accompany her during council meetings. The council chamber had witnessed the presence of her grandchildren sitting with her in her council chair, creating cherished family moments within the walls of the old City Hall.
Newly elected Councilmember Pam Cotter expressed her anticipation for the transition to the newly built City Hall, highlighting its potential positive impact on city operations and interactions with residents.
“I’m very excited that the city employees are not all scrunched together. Having more ‘elbow room’ for all the departments is going to be amazing,” Cotter said.
Cotter emphasized the enhanced working conditions that the new facility would offer, expressing enthusiasm about the additional space for departments and the anticipated improvement in efficiency. She envisioned a more collaborative workspace, enabling city employees to serve the community better.
Moreover, Cotter also acknowledged the importance of the new City Hall in fostering a stronger connection between the Murray City Council and the local community.
“Coming to a city council or a committee of the whole meeting, there is more room for everyone, along with comfortable new seats,” Cotter said. The upgraded seating arrangements in the council chambers expect to create a more inviting environment for councilmembers and residents alike.
In a heartwarming anecdote, one of Cotter’s constituents shared a memory that resonated deeply with her. The constituent recounted a story about their mother, who had taken her little chair from the old white schoolhouse and carried it to her new elementary school, Arlington (the former City Hall).
Inspired by this sentiment, she desires to find a similar chair to present to the constituent from that era. This shared memory highlighted residents’ profound connections with the city’s history, and Cotter acknowledged the importance of preserving such memories as Murray City embarked on its new chapter.
Councilmember Phil Markham’s perspective focused on the future, envisioning the new City Hall as a dynamic center for activity and community involvement.
“A new and better City Hall is long overdue. I think that this new building will serve as a catalyst in redeveloping downtown Murray,” Markham said.
Markham emphasized the enhancements within the council chambers, stating, “The council chambers are significantly larger with better sound and sight lines and much more welcoming.”
District 1’s City Councilor recognized the importance of accessibility and functionality in facilitating a positive and effective governance process.
The new City Hall has had a series of soft openings in anticipation of its grand opening. The council chamber was used for the first time on June 15 for a Planning Commission meeting. At the end of May, Murray City’s Finance and Administration team occupied their new digs.
Brenda Moore, director of Murray City Finance and Administration, expressed anticipation about the change of venue. “I am excited to leave behind the old City Hall. The earthquake in March of 2020 made me want to leave the building as soon as possible,” Moore said.
Moore highlighted the challenges posed by the previous building, including the need for functional areas to be spread across separate offices. However, she recognized the new City Hall’s positive impact on city operations.
“For the citizens coming to us, the service will be the same, but the surroundings are much better,” Moore said. The new facility would bring together various departments under one roof, offering improved accessibility and convenience for residents.
City Council Executive Director Jennifer Kennedy shared her thoughts on leaving behind her old office space and having experienced multiple relocations throughout her 16-year tenure, also serving as City Recorder. Kennedy didn’t have a great sentimental attachment to her previous workspace.
“I don’t have any strong feelings about leaving my old office space. The one thing I will miss is having all the councilmembers and city staff gathering in it between meetings on council nights,” Kennedy said.
However, Kennedy recognized the value of her old office as a gathering place for councilmembers and city staff, acknowledging its role in fostering collaboration and communication. Looking forward to the new City Hall, she expressed her hope that the community would embrace and enjoy the improved accessibility and amenities it offered.
“The new City Hall is more accessible to residents, and I hope they take advantage of that. This is their City Hall, and I would love to see the community grow to love and enjoy it,” Kennedy said.
Brooke Smith, city recorder for Murray City, expressed her excitement for the move, stating, “Overall, all the members of my department are excited to be in the new, brighter and more efficient space.”
Smith’s enthusiasm reflected the anticipation among her team members about the positive changes the new City Hall would bring. She highlighted the benefits that the new facility would provide, particularly in terms of improved collaboration and streamlined processes within her department.
“Preparing early for the move helped us maintain records integrity and ensure all valuable and accurate records were retained,” Smith said.
The transition to the new City Hall allowed her department to optimize its record management practices. Smith’s team aimed to enhance workflows, retrieval processes and overall productivity by implementing efficient organizational structures and utilizing high-efficiency rolling shelves in the new storage area. The focus on maintaining records integrity remained a high priority, as well as providing exceptional service to the community.
Smith also anticipated the added value the new City Hall would provide residents. She mentioned expanded waiting areas for passport clients, ensuring a more comfortable and efficient experience. In addition, the Utility Services lobby would offer more space, allowing for more people to be served simultaneously.
The new Murray City Hall’s dedication represents the second large-scale change for Murray’s downtown area. The first was building a new fire station east of the new City Hall.
Still in the works for downtown is the dedication of the Murray Museum that will be housed in the historic Murray Mansion, the renovation of the Murray Theater, the re-direction of Box Elder and Hanauer Streets, and the future of the Murray Chapel. Also, and probably the most controversial, is the plans for Block One (4800 South and State Street), whose original plans have been rejected amongst considerable public feedback. λ