PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 9, 2013

Nederland officially opens City Hall

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Anyone who has ever experienced a disagreeable roommate might have some insight into what life was like at the former Nederland city hall building last month.

“We were living on top of each other, working in the hallways,” said Chris Duque, Nederland city manager. “I hope we never have to do something like that again.”

The City of Nederland cut the ribbon at its new location, 207 N 12th Street, on Tuesday. But the plans for a new city hall have been percolating in the minds of Duque and Mayor R.A. “Dick” Nugent for several years now. Each year, the city council set aside as much money in the budget as possible in hopes of realizing the dream of a new city hall.

“If we didn’t need the money, we earmarked it for the new building,” Nugent said.

Then funding came in the form of a port security grant project intended to build a new fire station and remodel the city’s police station and emergency operations center (EOC). After fruitless attempts to find a central location for the fire station at a reasonable price, the Nederland City Council decided to build a new city hall in the first part of a two-phase project. The second phase is to gut and remodel the former city hall/police station/fire station — located on Boston Avenue — to meet the needs of the fire and police departments. The project is expected to be completed within a year.

“We took a pretty big leap of faith,” Duque said. “We’re still not 100 percent, but we’ll get there.”

The city council awarded the $1.265 million bid to the Beaumont-based company Bruce’s General Construction in January, and broke ground on the building in February. After eight months of construction, the new city hall opened its doors to the public on Sept. 23. The building is currently paid for, at no increase in expense to the taxpayers.

“That’s very rare,” Nugent said.

Before he led Nederland through three hurricane evacuations as mayor, Nugent worked in the city’s emergency management department. He said the cabling in the new building is such that the council will be able to plug in radios in the event of a power outage during a storm.

“We try to get the most bang for our buck,” Nugent said.

Duque expressed relief at being out of the building.

“The old building had so much wasted space,” he said. “I love the functionality of this one.

“This is not just for us today,” he added. “It represents the future for this community.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA