LEMOORE — The Lemoore City Council took a step Tuesday night toward moving forward with a more than half-million-dollar project to convert old warehouse space into city offices.

In a continued effort to use the massive Cinnamon Municipal Complex, the council approved a budget amendment to allow the construction. Originally budgeted at $550,000 in the city’s capital improvements budget, council members voted to approve an additional $22,070 to pay for a design phase.

The additional money will come from the city’s facility and infrastructure fund.

The project will convert existing warehouse space into new offices, a conference room, storage rooms, bathrooms, as well as leaving space for extra offices in the future. Construction will likely begin around July.

“That was a collaborative effort,” said Joe Simonson, director of the Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department. “All of the department heads that are involved got together and hammered out what I think is a really good plan.”

The complex, located at 711 Cinnamon Drive, already houses the city parks and recreation, planning and public works departments, but those departments are currently packed into the limited existing office space. The complex is about three-fourths of a mile from Lemoore City Hall, where the other city offices are located.

Following construction, each department will have its own designated space. Simonson said the recreation department office would have a wall so that “kids that are going in and out of the facility don’t run rampant” through the other departments.

“The building inspectors asked for a separate room [for] when they have customers that want to discuss things a little more loudly,” Simonson said. “That would go in one of the existing rooms.”

Mayor Pro Tem John Plourde asked how the various departments would maintain operations during the construction.

“We’re looking at a couple of different ways to stage it,” Simonson said. “We’re trying to minimize the [impact] to the public. We’ll be able to remain open. I’m not saying it won’t be challenging — parts of it will be challenging — but we’ve created an egress where they can come in and we can still conduct business. The doors will be open, there will be a few challenging weeks, but we’ll make sure that business can be conducted.”

Simonson said the project will use the services of architectural firms working at Naval Air Station Lemoore during their down time at the base. He said those companies have submitted bids for various services at reduced prices.

The Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department recently added a $138,000 indoor soccer field at the complex, which debuted late last month. League games are scheduled to begin next week.

Other projects for the complex listed in the city’s capital improvements budget for this year include installing a new roll-up door, replacing falling pipes and installing new lighting on the recreation side.

Simonson said the office expansion will more or less complete the build-out with the exception of about 8,000 square feet remaining on the recreation side.

Except for its responsibility to rent out the Lemoore Civic Auditorium, the recreation department will move all of its operations to the Cinnamon Municipal Complex this year.

“I think this allows for 20, 30 years of growth,” Simonson told the council. “If needed, we have that extra space. And it would be obviously more room than we’ve had in my 20 years here.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.

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