After a few minor delays and a glitch with the phone system, Palmetto Bay’s new Village Hall complex with advanced “green” technology is open for business.
Located at 9705 E. Hibiscus St., the new village hall has a traditional architectural façade that blends in well with the South Florida community, but the innovative building has an array of built-in features designed to save energy, resources and money.
Former village Mayor Eugene P. Flinn Jr., the principal champion of the first permanent village hall, is happy to see it completed.
“I am very pleased that we’ve got that project finished,” Flinn said. “I’m very proud of that building. It should be an outstanding and lasting legacy for our people. We have the first municipal building here in South Florida with that level of green technology, and it’s not going to be obsolete.”
Flinn pointed to the combination of special electrical and plumbing equipment that is part of the design. Room lights turn off in unoccupied areas, solar panels on the roof gather enough free energy from the sun to not only power the complex much of the time, but also enough during non-peak times to make it possible to sell back power to FPL.
The design of the building minimizes air-conditioning costs, and special paving bricks surrounding it drain rainwater into giant cisterns that will provide free water for flushing toilets and other non-drinking purposes like watering plants.
“It’s a model of sustainability,” Flinn said. “It’s going to provide great savings to our residents.”
Flinn recalled the years of canvassing government agencies for grant money to help with the building costs.
“It took me a lot of trips to Washington and Tallahassee to get the money for that,” Flinn said. “It was worth the effort, though.”
He also thinks the location in the Franjo Triangle will be beneficial, becoming the cornerstone of a new “downtown” area with new businesses and an improved look.
“I really have to give credit to former Councilman Paul Neidhart for wanting to put the village hall in that area,” Flinn said. “Not only will it provide great service for residents, it will be a big economic generator for a part of the community that needed a lift.”
Bill Kress, public information officer for the village, said that although they are open for business, a formal ceremony probably will not take place until February.
“We haven’t yet settled on a date for the ribbon-cutting,” Kress said. “The move has been taking all of our energy and focus just to get things in here. There are obviously certain functions that have to be offered on an ongoing basis, primarily the building and permitting office, which is one of the highest traffic functions of the whole village hall. People have already started coming here for that. The phones are up and running. The computers are up and running again.”
Kress recalled that it was awkward at first when people wanted to visit the new complex while staff members still were unpacking. There were crates around and things not quite ready yet.
“We did ask that people resist the urge to drop by until we could host a proper visit, or at least call ahead,” Kress said. “One of our residents, Hal Feldman, did a video tour of the center which we posted on our website.”
Kress remarked that for the village council and staff, the new facility had been an ongoing priority.
“Mayor Flinn worked very hard for this during his tenure,” Kress said. “And former council member and our new mayor, Shelley Stanczyk, was a proponent as well.”
The main phone number for village hall, 305-259-1234, will remain the same, as will many of the extensions, but there is a new number for the Village Police Administrative Office which is 305-278- 400, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday- Friday, for non-emergency calls, and of course 9-1-1 for emergencies.