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Fight City Hall? Sure, but not through front door

The public could still fight City Hall, just not through the front door, under a series of security upgrades the Hendersonville City Council OK’d on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, if you watch the evening news you’ve seen that our world has changed dramatically over the last many years,” City Manager John Connet said as he introduced policy changes intended to improve safety for employees and the public, eliminate confusion about where to enter the city’s administrative headquarters and put customer service in one place.
The changes are also designed to make sure all facilities are ADA compliant and improve customer service by making one entrance, on the parking lot side of City Hall and not at the front, he said.
Recommended changes, effective Oct. 1 if the council approves, include:
• Changing City Hall's official address from 145 Fifth Avenue East to 160 Sixth Avenue East, in part so people using GPS will arrive at the new public entrance.
• Installing panic buttons at critical locations throughout City Hall.
• Lock all doors except the Sixth Avenue entrance, with cardkey access for employees.
• Require employees to wear employee badges at all times.
Phase 2 changes, implemented by July 1, include placing a police officer or security guard in the lobby when City Hall is open and implement a visitor sign-in and visitor badge system. A third phase would involve renovating the first floor for combined customer service, including utilities, which would move from the third floor.
Connet’s plan included similar security improvements at the City Operations building on Williams Street, both fire stations and in the city’s land-use planning office, which is in the county building at 100 N. King St.
Connet said the recommendations came after input from employees at several city properties.
“A cross-section section of our employees have sat down and talked about it including folks in operations and law enforcement,” he said.
The council endorsed the security upgrades.