San Ramon celebrates new City Hall

Two-story facility sits at heart of city at 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road

Hundreds were on hand as San Ramon city officials unveiled the new City Hall with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning.

Standing in the heart of Bollinger Canyon Road in central San Ramon, the two-story City Hall houses offices for about 40 city staff members, plus San Ramon's brand new council chamber and emergency operation center.

"It took us like 33 years to get to this point, but I think it's worth the wait," Phil Wong, city planning services director, said with a smile to open Saturday's celebration event.

More than 300 people attended the 30-minute dedication ceremony, including many city staffers, former council members, local and regional officials, civic leaders and other community members.

The modern, 45,000-square-foot facility at 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, built for $15 million by Sunset Development, sits adjacent to Central Park, on top of where the park's basketball courts used to be.

"It's nice that San Ramon is truly beginning to come of age," Mayor Bill Clarkson said during the ceremony.

In addition to Central Park, the new City Hall is near the San Ramon Library (which is under renovations), the Community Center, the Bishop Ranch business park, the Iron Horse Regional Trail and the site of Sunset's planned City Center at Bishop Ranch retail, residential and commercial complex.

Clarkson said the area will soon represent "the downtown we deserve."

All five councilmen spoke Saturday, with Clarkson and his peers praising the new City Hall and sharing the sentiment that it will stand at the center of what they hope will finally give San Ramon a true downtown.

Councilman Dave Hudson said he thinks residents "will point to this building as a source of pride for our civic center." He added, "I look forward to the day that San Ramon has a downtown."

The new City Hall celebrates "the vision of our past civic leaders, the work of our current civic leaders and the dreams of our future leaders of tomorrow," Councilman Harry Sachs said.

The state-of-the-art, two-story facility replaced a one-story office complex on the 2200 block of Camino Ramon that housed City Hall and city offices since the mid-1980s. That old home "was always deemed to be a temporary location," according to Wong.

City officials studied several alternative sites for a new City Hall over the past couple decades before the opportunity to partner with Sunset Development arose, Wong said.

Sunset constructed the new building for the city as general contractor, covering an outstanding loan on a piece of land it acquired from the city and the price under an option it had to re-acquire another piece of property from the city, according to company officials.

The audience Saturday also heard comments from Alexander Mehran Jr., president and chief operating officer of Sunset, and a poem in honor of the event, titled "Grand Opening," written by San Ramon poet laureate Kathy Moore before the council dedicated the building and cut the ceremonial blue ribbon.

City staff and volunteers then led attendees on guided tours of the new City Hall -- which officially opened its doors April 27 in a soft-opening, though move-in and final touches continued in the following weeks leading up to Saturday's ceremony.

The first floor includes the circular lobby, the city's finance services division, a passport center, the new council chamber and emergency operations center (EOC).

The council chamber is more than twice as large as the council's former meeting space on Camino Ramon. The new room seats 150 people and can fit up to 250 at capacity, while the old council chamber sat about five dozen and accommodated about 75 people overall.

The chamber has large screens mounted on the walls for the audience and council members to watch presentations that take place during the public meetings. The council meetings will be simulcast on television screens in the City Hall lobby.

City officials hope to hold the inaugural council meeting in the new chamber May 24.

The EOC, which would be used as central command for city officials in the event of a serious citywide emergency, replaces the former location at the fire district headquarters at Bollinger Canyon and Crow Canyon roads.

The room will be used as a training space when the EOC is inactive, but it will be ready to go at a moment's notice when an emergency occurs, according to city officials. There's also a small police department substation next to the EOC, with an interview room, report-writing room and open meeting space.

Upstairs houses city administration, parks and recreation, information technology, human resources and several conference rooms, as well as the mayor's office and two other offices shared by the four remaining council members.

Clarkson's second-story office has a marquee view, overlooking Central Park, Bishop Ranch and the west San Ramon hills.

A majority of the furniture and equipment was repurposed from the prior city offices. Outside City Hall, there are also bike lockers for city staff and an electric vehicle charging station.

During Saturday's event, city officials displayed items set to go into a time capsule that will be buried just outside the front door of City Hall later this spring until unearthed in July 2083.

The city also offered free refreshments to attendees, including hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones and soft drinks. The Olympia Fields Brass Band performed live music for the event.

The new City Hall is right next to the Central Park skate park, which reopened Saturday afternoon following a ribbon-cutting to celebrate completed renovations at the skate park.

Check out the Facebook page to view more photos from the City Hall and skate park ribbon-cutting events.

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