by Ginger Broomes
The Orange City Council had their first meeting of the month today, and one of the items the council approved was the hiring of an architectural firm to look into the old City Hall on Green Avenue.
The Labiche Architecural Group, Inc. was the firm selected, for an amount not to exceed $15,000.
Assistant Engineer of Public Works, James Ingram, told the council that the amount is the going rate, and the proposal is to look at the remodeling and updating of the old City Hall and City Jail - something that has to be done before any use of any kind.
“We’ve been talking about what we’re going to do with the old City Hall,” City Manager Mike Kunst said. “And this is just the first step.”
Kunst added that the hiring of the firm is just to see what can be done with it, and there hasn’t been anything decided what the future use of City Hall would be. Some of the ideas have included multi-use spaces inside, or a museum. He stated that the City didn't know what the building would be yet, but that it would not be demolished.
The Old City Hall has sat empty since 2019 when city offices moved into the former First Financial Bank location on 16th Street. The old hall was at one time the mansion of Edgar Brown Jr., a member of the prominent Lutcher-Brown family in Orange. The city purchased the old building in 1944.
Council also approved fencing at the intersection of Dupont Drive and Campus Street in the Cove, as the first step to making the former Cove School location a new recreation area. The contract of $12,734 was awarded to A-1 American Fencing and will be the same fencing used at the Riverside Pavilion and Lions Den Park.
Also approved was an EDC Incentive for Orange City Donut, which will be located at 3640 MLK Drive in Orange. The business is moving into Orange from another town. The grant is for infrastructure improvements not to exceed $35,000.
Leigh Anne Dallas with Orange EDC told the council that the 2022 Orange Mardi Gras parades will begin Friday 2/18, with a motor parade at 6:30 pm. Parades continue with the Saturday afternoon Munchkin parade at 2:00 pm, and conclude with the Krewe of Krewes parade at 6:30 Saturday night. There will be five performers and ten food trucks throughout the two-day festival, and all spaces for food trucks are full.
Mayor Larry Spears Jr. closed out the meeting, stating, “Here we are, in the first meeting of February, and a lot of times we get so caught up in starting over, that I’d like to bring attention to where we are right now.
“The passing of former mayor Ms. Essie Bellfield was a great loss to our community. She was a pioneer, a civil rights activist, and she loved hard. One of the things she used to always say to us was, ‘Coopers Gulley looks like Tarzan’s jungle’.
“But you see now that we are working on the second half of that concrete project - which started on the east side of Simmons - and now we are working all the way behind Navy Park. It looks so much better.
“I wish she was here to see it because I know she was waiting on that.”
Mayor Spears also pointed out that Orange will have a new hospital, and a new rec center, along with a new park in the Brownwood area, as well as the planned recreation area in the Cove.
“So, I just want you to see that we have progress going on - all over the city.”