The new Olympia City Hall had its grand opening and dedication ceremony Saturday, a three-hour event that attracted a who's who of current and former public officials.
The $36.5 million building at 601 Fourth Ave. opened to the public March 14, but Saturday had all the trappings of a celebration, including music, a ribbon cutting, more music, speeches and proclamations.
It all began about 1 p.m. Saturday with a Squaxin Island tribal blessing, followed by a ribbon cutting that involved all of the current Olympia City Council members and Mayor Doug Mah. After that, the doors were thrown wide-open and the crowd filed in to fill the new council chambers to hear more music and speeches.
About 50 people occupied council chamber seats while 100 or so others crowded in around the others. While guests were finding their seats, the Capital High School Jazz Band was laying it down thick, pumping out a steady stream of jazz music, complete with a tenor sax solo.
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Those in attendance included city officials from Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater; county officials, such as Karen Valenzuela; state Sen. Karen Fraser of the 22nd district; former Olympia City Council members TJ Johnson, Matthew Green and Karen Messmer; and Secretary of State Sam Reed.
“They are vitally important to communities,” Reed said about city halls in his address to the audience. “It’s a great building and well-designed to fit a community like this.”
Mah, too, touted the strengths of the building and said that it represents the values of the community, such as its commitment to open government, customer service, sustainable living, downtown and public art. He added, too, that if one visits the building’s fourth floor, the building is “visually connected to the state Capitol and Puget Sound.”
“It’s visual testimony to what we value in this community,” Mah said. He also pointed out that some of the wood used in council chambers was reclaimed from the Safeway store that used to occupy the City Hall site.
Other guests at the grand opening celebration included Eldon Marshall, 87, a former city supervisor – similar to city manager, he said – who worked for the city when the old City Hall on Plum Street was dedicated March 26, 1966. At the time, the cost to buy, build and furnish the old building was $850,000, he said. As for the new building, Marshall was nearly speechless.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”
The first council meeting in the new building is set for April 12.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theolympian.com/bizblog