City Council’s First Meeting in City HallSep 29, 2016 11:46AM ● By Cassie Goff
City Council attending the first meeting in the new city hall. (Cassandra Goff/City Journals)
By: Cassandra Goff – [email protected]
Cottonwood Heights, Utah - On Sept. 13, for the first time ever, the Cottonwood Heights City Council meeting was held in the new city hall located at 2277 Bengal Blvd. The previous city offices were located in a building that had been rented since the city’s incorporation and was shared with multiple businesses. Instead of the council and residents meeting in that space, they were able to meet in the new city building that is entirely the city’s.
Usually, the work session meeting is held in a conference room with the mayor, council and department heads sitting around a big conference table. The business meetings are usually held in the council chambers. For this meeting, both sessions were held in the council chambers because the custom furniture for the conference room had yet to be delivered.
Two of the council chamber walls are almost entirely windows that face east toward the mountains. For this first meeting, attendees were able to mountain gaze at the oncoming fall colors and watch as a rainstorm rolled in. In a lull of the rainstorm a rainbow appeared in front of the mountains and an ice-cream truck drove by.
It was also Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo’s birthday, so attendees that walked in at just the right moment witnessed the entire council and staff singing “Happy Birthday.”
“Congratulations on the new city hall,” Nancy Tingey of the Canyons School District said as she stepped up to the podium to give her monthly presentation about the school district. She was the first person ever to stand at the city’s new podium.
“I’ll have to add this to my bucket list just so I can cross it off,” Tingey said.
The business session meeting began with citizen comments. Generally, this part of the meeting is silent. In an unexpected moment, City Attorney Shane Topham stepped out from his usual seat and walked up to the podium to address the council.
“November will make twelve years since I was contacted for an interview with the first elected officials of Cottonwood Heights,” Topham began. “These years have been a real highlight in my personal and professional life. There’s nothing better than to do interesting, productive work with colleagues I like and respect.”
Topham recalled the first interactions with the city and its employees. In one meeting, he wanted to take notes but forgot to bring a pen. When he asked for one, he was met with blank looks.
“Having our own city hall has been a hope and dream for many years. Congratulations to everyone.” Topham paused before continuing. “With a new home, a housewarming gift is given to express friendship and memorialize the occasion. I’ve had a few years to think about what an appropriate gift might be.”
Topham then gave the city a painting of Old Mill, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, in recognition of the newest landmark.
“The Historic Committee will applaud your decision on the Old Mill,” Councilmember Mike Peterson said.
After citizen comments, Public Works Director Matt Shipp presented his monthly report. Before getting into the activities of the month, he said, “This is the third city hall I’ve been involved with and this is the nicest council chamber I’ve been in.”
In the same pattern, Community and Economic Development Director Brian Berndt commented before his weekly report during the work session meeting. “I want to thank the council for this beautiful building. It’s a pleasure to work here. This is a really beautiful room to conduct our meetings in.”
City Manager John Park began his report by saying, “I’m just happy to be here. We are dang excited. The public works guys went above and beyond.”
Park discussed how a specific few staff members were a huge help in moving and never seemed to stop working.
After the city council meeting adjourned for the night, the council and a few of the staff members walked through the entire building to see the finished product and to evaluate the few loose ends that still needed to be addressed.