Kenly’s new town hall is just steps away from the old building, but it’s leaps and bounds better.
Kenly employees moved across the street to their new building in mid-January. The town used a low-interest federal loan – about $400,000 – to buy the building and renovate the space.
Before, the building was a K&S Bank branch – the old bank vault now serves as evidence storage for the police department.
“I think it brings a lot more character to the town,” said Police Chief Josh Gibson.
Before, his department worked in a room with a leak in the ceiling and water damage on the floor. Now Gibson’s staff has new rooms and doors with locks to keep things secure. Morale has improved, he said.
“The conditions of the building we’d been working in were atrocious,” the chief said. “You just feel better. You feel better from coming out from a Pinto to a real nice car.”
Town Manager Greg Dunham said the town had been looking into a new building for years. When the old bank building became available, things worked out well, he said.
The previous town hall, built in 1946, was just too old, Dunham said. It was a fire station before, and the council chambers were once bays for fire trucks.
“It’s served its purpose well, but the town decided that it would like to find a new facility,” Dunham said. “But we still own it, and we’ll be discussing what we would like to do with it.”
Kenly will likely convert the building for other town uses or sell it, the town manager said.
Dunham said morale has improved for all town staff. Now they have a kitchen, leftover from the old bank, and a breakroom to eat their lunches together. The walls are freshly painted, the lighting is brighter and citizens have a nicer, bigger space to meet with government. Staff and visitors now have a parking lot, too, which the old building lacked.
Before, anyone could walk into the police department area. Now, the space has locks for the doors. The bank also had Internet and phone lines already in place.
Many records and files are still being stored in the old building and are being moved over bit by bit, Dunham said.
Mayor David Grady said staying in downtown was important to the town council. “(We are) committed to downtown Kenly,” he said. “We did not want to move out of downtown.”
The loan is for 39 years, and payments will come out of the general fund and water and sewer fund, Dunham said. The town held a ribbon cutting last Sunday for the new building. Earlier this month, U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre came to Kenly to present town officials with a check for the loan.