Originally Published: March 9, 2018 5:58 a.m.
In what has lightheartedly become known as the “information super hallway,” efforts are underway to make Prescott City Hall a more welcoming and informative place.
Renovations began Monday, March 5, for a number of minor changes in the configuration of 1960s-era building.
First to go were the dated glass-and-metal doors that have long separated the building’s L-shaped entry hallway. Likewise, racks of pamphlets cluttering the walls have been removed – to be replaced by a television that will feature scrolling information.
The goal, say city officials, is to open up the space and give visitors a more streamlined experience.
One of the main changes is the positioning of a city “ambassador” in the main hallway to help direct visitors to their various destinations.
Longtime city staffers – including Planning Manager George Worley, Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator Wendy Bridges, and Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill – were serving in the host role during the first week.
Community Outreach Manager John Heiney said about 40 city staff members have volunteered to take a shift of an hour or two during the first several months of the program. The city hopes to turn the host duties over to volunteers by about June, he said.
The role of the ambassadors will be to approach visitors, welcome them to city hall and answer questions.
Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr said the city will be looking for local residents who would like to volunteer as ambassadors. “If people are interested in being an ambassador, we’d love to hear from them,” she said.
Those interested should call executive assistant Michelle Rush at 928-777-1248.
Meanwhile, city staffers are gauging the types of questions visitors have, as well as the busiest times.
Woodfill, who served as the ambassador Wednesday afternoon, March 7, said he had fielded questions about city functions, such as the location of Prescott Public Library, city billing details, and building permits.
Heiney says the ambassadors program is a continuation of the city’s efforts to improve customer service.
While many visitors to city hall know exactly where they’re going, Heiney said, others are there for the first time. By directing visitors to where they need to be, he said the ambassadors can save people from standing in line at the wrong location.
For those who would rather find information on their own, a kiosk has been installed with a touch-pad computer, where visitors can explore the city’s website. The ambassador booth also is equipped with a computer, allowing the city staffers to quickly look up information for visitors.
The ambassador program came up during a Prescott City Council strategic-planning session on Monday, March 5, when council members brought up a persistent community perception among residents, contactors, and builders that the dealing with the city is difficult.
Councilman Steve Sischka suggested that an official should be available to help people navigate the city’s processes. “We need an ombudsman,” he said.
City Manager Michael Lamar said the city-hall host program is among the steps the city is taking to improve dealings between residents and the city.
Along with the ambassador booth and computer kiosk, the renovations also will include new paint in the hallway and possible expansion of the counter space in the community development and billing departments.
While much of the work will be done in-house by city employees, the city has standing contracts with local companies for tasks like painting and drywall repair, Woodfill said.
A cost estimate was not available this week, but the price tag for the improvements is expected to be minimal – likely in the several-thousand-dollar range, officials say.