Irmo reviews plans for new Town Hall

By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council Tuesday reviewed final plans for a proposed new Town Hall during a workshop meeting.

Larry Watts of Hybrid Engineering, developer for the project, gave some final recommendations on the project, which is estimated to cost between $3.5 and $3.8 million.

The two-story building will be located next to the Irmo Fire Station a short distance away from the current town center. It will accommodate all of the town’s personnel and include a large room for public gatherings that could accommodate as many as 400 people. Parking spaces would be available for as many as 60 vehicles. Watts said the new facility could also provide rental space for special events.

Councilman Erik Sickinger recommended surrounding the new town hall with appropriate landscapes.
“Keep as much of it green as you can,” he said.

Councilman Kelly Busch suggested that the council could consider adding the town’s courtroom to the new town hall, a move that would require a third-floor.

Busch said the idea should be considered when contemplating such a major investment in a building that would serve the town for the next 30 to 40 years.

In other action the council continued discussions on a plan to install traffic cameras at different locations in the town as a safety measure.

The planned surveillance system with include six facial recognition cameras and six license plate readers. The cost is projected at $40,000.

Irmo Town Administrator Courtney Dennis said he has contacted several different service providers and had received six quotes on costs for the installations. He said the project will take some time because of various requirements to set up the cameras, such as encroachment permits.

The council also held a discussion on holding “hybrid meetings” in the future, a procedure that elected governments follow throughout the country. The meetings would allow council members who are unable to attend a meeting physically to participate electronically.

The council would have to adopt an ordinance making such meetings allowable. The proposal, by Councilwoman Barbara Waldman, was supported by all members of the council.

The council also agreed to set up a public access view on all fees charged by the town for numerous different services. Currently, such fees are scattered in town ordinances that would have to be searched. The proposed “Master Fee Schedule” would place all fees on one site.

The council held a brief discussion on “homeless” issues in the town. One of the problems cited is the presence of “panhandlers” who appear in public locations and hold signs claiming to be homeless and in need of money.

Irmo Police Chief Bobby Dale said officers often approach panhandlers and tell them to move on, but are unable to make arrests since homelessness is not a crime.